Getting regular household repair work done on time – impossible ?

I had gone to visit a cousin in the United Kingdom, when they ran into some problem with a household utility. They called the required service, and they discussed a suitable time and some estimates of cost (with final cost to be figured out when the repair person finally arrived). I was actually shocked when, within 5 minutes of the discussed time, the repairman showed up. Why shocked ? Well, if you ever had a chance to get something repaired or some construction done inside your home or business or factory, one thing you would have learned is that there is no such system of accurate timing to be followed.
Typically this has been the flow of this process. You run into some problem in your home, supposed a particular lighting system goes on the blink, and you call up the electrician. The first reaction would be: “Okay, I’ll come”. No mention of time, no mention of what timing would be convenient, and so on. And it is possible that when you call up 5 hours later, then the electrician realizes that you are serious and do need help, and will come within the next 1 hour. You could replace electrician with some other service, and would get a similar response. Problem with leaking tap ? Tie a cloth and wait for the plumber to come. Asked the painter to come, and he will come in the next 2-3 days. If you are not at home, you can be sure that this would be the time he would have come. This is a common problem with all such service people.
Even service providers who claim to offer more professional services suffer from the same problem. I have a service from a prominent provider of satellite TV, and there was a problem in the set-top box. Calling the call center provided a solution, where they promised to send a repair person, and they asked me for a time for the same. I provided them a 3 hour timeline, and to no surprise, the 3 hour passed without any visit. I got back to the service center and told them of the same. 15 minutes later I got a call from the local representative of the provider, who promised to come soon, but reproached me for telling the service center about non-arrival (since that meant he must have got a ticking off about reaching on time). He inspected the equipment after arrival, and decided that the equipment he had with him would not work, and needed to get some fresh equipment.
He asked for a fresh time, and since my infant boy had just slept off in the same room where the equipment would need to be handled, I told him of a time for 2 hours later. He agreed, but came in again 1 hour later. I was astonished as to how this was possible, and refused to let him come to do the repair. Within 2 minutes, I got a call from his supervisor, and this was an ugly conversation. Finally I told him that he was being unprofessional and I will file another complaint, and he grudgingly agreed, but just to make a point, instead of coming at the agreed on time, he came an hour later.
The big thought in all this was, what happens if I was at the office during these intervals rather than at home ? It would be almost impossible to decide a time when one could take a short time off, since these service providers do not seem to follow regular timings. One can only hope that over a period of time, they will maybe start to become more professional.

Air hostess died in Chennai amusement park, compensation paid

However, the compensation amount seems so inadequate at times. When you consider this young air-hostess, and her sudden and accidental death in a Chennai amusement park, her death at the age of 20 cannot be compensated by with a compensation amount of Rs. 25 lakhs (she would have earned far more during her career, besides the shock of somebody dying so young in an accident that could have been prevented). As one can figure out by reading the news article, the death inside the amusement park happened because the proper safety procedures were not followed by the park operatives; and why were they not followed ? Because there was a large rush inside the amusement park, and hence the proper safety procedures were bypassed. This is not just an accident, but bypassing the safety procedures or using a short-cut is a criminal act and should be prosecuted as such. Further, the owners are trying to get away from responsibility for the attack, and this cannot be allowed. They were the owners, and hence the overall responsibility is theirs (link to article):

Madras high court judge Justice P N Prakash ensured that the cheque for the amount was handed over to the victim’s mother, Sasule Magh, in the presence of two lawyers — Vasugi Ramanan, representing Sasule, and R C Paul Kanagaraj, representing the amusement park.
Afia Magh, an airhostess with Kingfisher Airlines, visited EVP Theme Park at Sembarambakkam with nine of her friends on October 2, 2012. While she was enjoying the octopus ride at the park, she fell down and suffered serious injuries. She died at a private hospital later in the day.

Railways told to pay for lost bike

Some things can be pretty shocking. Imagine having bought a new bike, and then getting transferred to a new city. New bike owners are paranoid about the maintenance of their bikes and spend time taking care of them. Depending on somebody else to care for them, even for a few hours, is something that seems odd; but if you have got a transfer, you have to depend on somebody else to transfer the bike for you. Nowadays a lot of people depend on packers and movers for the same, but the railways also have a good service to carry cargo, and ensuring the movement of cars and bikes through the railways service is something that a lot of people depend upon. However, once in a while, if something goes wrong, there is a lot of effort that needs to be taken to find out what has gone wrong, and to get redressal for the same.
In this case, the person who had booked his bike had also got insurance to cover the movement, and had to call upon both the railways and the insurance company to make good for his loss. However, he was in for a bigger shock, with the railways disclaiming any responsibility for the same, and even claiming that his receipt issued by the railways was not authentic. The loss of a new bike or any such vehicle can be painful, and having to make a lot of efforts to find out what has happened and to file claims in the insurance forum for the same takes effort and legwork, especially when the opposing party refuses to accept any responsibility.
There was a long effort for the same, with the insurance company giving in a bit early and deciding to settle in the consumer forum, but the railways refused to accept, and had to be taken to 2 different levels in the consumer forums in order to get a settlement that the person was willing to accept, and it took a period of 5 years for the same (link to article):

A brand new motorcycle of Ambarish Chandrayan was stolen from Pune railway station premises. Chandrayan had purchased the two-wheeler and insured it with Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company by paying a premium of Rs 1,133 on March 15, 2010, under package policy.
Due to transfer Chandrayan on June 30, 2010, booked his bike for Rs 680 including packaging charges. The complainant was also issued receipt to that effect and was informed that the motorcycle would be delivered at Nagpur station within 10 days but it didn’t reach.
When inquired, the complainant was informed that the receipt itself was not authentic. Chandrayan lodged a FIR at Pune railway station on July 24, 2010. As the two wheeler motor cycle vehicle was insured, the complainant submitted insurance claim on August 17, 2010, with the company but the insurance company repudiated the claim as not being theft. The railway police too washed its hand of the matter.

Fining vehicles parked on the road in Delhi

This issue rose out of a dispute, but the basic point is a point that really cannot be disputed. When roads are not wide, and when there is a probability of high congestion, then the availability of parking on the road is something that needs to be decided by the traffic authorities and the municipal authorities. It is basic common sense that when the road in an area is not really wide enough for both traffic to pass through and for parking on the side of the road, something has to give and the smooth movement of traffic is a priority.
In this case, there was a dispute over making a divider on the middle of the road (and sometimes making a divider is necessary to ensure the segregation of traffic moving on both sides of the road, since it is seen that in many Indian cities, motorists will easily move on the wrong side of the road in order to move ahead); with the regular motorists and locals objecting while the traffic police firm in its proposal to make the divider. And once the divider was made, it was clear that there were 2 lanes on either side, and if vehicle parking took 1 lane, the transit lane would not be enough for traffic. And so, soon after, the traffic police starting putting parking fines on the vehicles parked on the road. In earlier decisions, the National Green Tribunal has already made it clear that roads are meant for transit, not for vehicle parking; and this is what the traffic police have now started implementing on this stretch of the road (link to article):

Challans of Rs 100 were found fixed on the windshields of the vehicles parked outside Godavari and Narmada apartments on Wednesday afternoon when the road was crowded with school buses. The one foot-wide divider leaves a two-lane space on either side, one of which is used for parking cars, leaving just one lane for vehicles to pass.
“We are forced to park on the road as the colony roads are crowded with vehicles. The traffic police were aware of this, they had even promised to discuss an alternative with us,” said Harish Nagpal, a resident of Godavari Apartments and a member of the local traders association.

Of course, there are many other problems that need to be handled; the roads of these areas are not really geared to handle the kind of traffic flowing through them, and the number of vehicles moving in this area. There needs to be more provision of public vehicles in these areas, as well as more of encouraging walking rather than taking vehicles everywhere.

Mumbai High Court asks corporation to explain heavy flooding

Last month, in June 2015, there was an incidence of heavy flooding in Mumbai, after a long spell of rain. As usual, the recrimination game blame started, with the corporation and the government both claiming that they are doing the best they can, but with the huge amount of rain, it was just impossible to prevent flooding. The critics however claimed that the corporations had really not done anything after all the promises made during the disaster of the 2005 flooding, and with construction activities going on all over the city, there was localized flooding in many parts, spread all over the cities. The river was over-flooded and not really cleaned to make it capable of accepting this large amount of water, and so on.
This blame game occurred for a few days, but was forgotten after that, to be repeated the next time there will be heavy rain. However, with the increasing presence of the judiciary in civil issues and taking up the rights of citizens, there is a new angle involved now. The courts are showing an increased feel of getting involved in how the corporations are doing their work, and are not hesitant to strike out if they feel that the government bodies are not really doing their work. In this case, the query before the court is about the flooding, but if the people of Mumbai are lucky, the court will get involved in some more detail, questioning the amount of work done and the money spent (link to article):

The Bombay High Court, hearing a PIL, on Thursday told the BMC that everybody was blaming the civic body for the waterlogging during the recent rains, that brought Mumbai to a halt. It also allowed the IMD to be made a party to the PIL.
“What is this? Everybody has been complaining about you,” said a bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Anil Menon while hearing the public interest litigation by advocate Atal Bihari Dubey, seeking that the corporation hold an inquiry against persons responsible for it.

One of the accusations laid on the BMC is that although it spends money on work, a lot of the money is siphoned off through corruption or on ineffective work.