September 12, 2009

Is Chennai Corporation really citizen friendly?

Last fortnight, when one side of the main road where my office is located was flooded after a spell of rain, I went online and lodged a complaint on the web site of Chennai Corporation.(

A SMS popped up on my cell phone to acknowledge the plaint. Minutes later, another SMS told me my plaint had been forwarded to the local staff. A third SMS informed me that the engineer had seen this plaint. And a fourth said action would follow.

48 hours later the local area engineer called me. He was polite and repeated the plaint. He said he too was aware of the problem. And that it would be set right soon. How soon?

In January 2010, he said, still polite, because new drains had to be laid on this side of the main road and that such works could be started only after the year-end monsoon.

I politely told him that the Chennai Corporation’s contractor had relaid the pavement alongside our office complex with smart, red tiles but every time I had to get out of the office complex I had to step on the smart red tiles and step into dirty, stagnant water.

There is a bit of buzz now on how our city Corporation has moved into the age of computerisation, online payment and digital mapping.

All of us should be proud of the development.

But this development is certainly bypassing some thing that should be central to a city’s civic body.

The need to involve the community in planning, debating and collaborating in all its projects.

Instead, Chennai Corporation acts like a benevolent Godfather that is proud to launch and implement hundreds of projects, big, fancy and small, and help us all lead a pleasant and peaceful life.

Is there no way in which proposals and ideas mooted at the zonal level cannot be made transparent to the community and their ideas incorporated too? Or is this the preserve of only the local councillors, who are elected by the people?

Is there a better way in which interested citizens can take a look at major civic projects before they are voted for in the City Council and carried out at dead of night?

The same technology that enables us to lodge plaints online and receive polite calls from engineers can be used to open up projects, proposals and ideas to the people of the city.

And we must get this to happen because there are a bunch of people who care for the city as much as Chennai Corporation does.


Simulation said...

Hi Vincent,

I have started a photo-blog to post all civic issues in and around Mylapore.

Though I have not made any formal mechanism to pass on the complaints to the authorities concerned, I wish all the issues posted here are closed somehow. Any suggestions welcome.

- Sundar

Vincent D' Souza said...

Nice idea and effort Sundar.

The captions should be tighter - you may need to talk to a local resident who can fill in details. Sharp captions can be effective.

Also, you will need to fan out - to cover Mandaveli, San Thome, Mylapore, etc to make sure the coverage is even and across.

For now it appears the pics are of areas around your home.

Once you have featured 15 pictures with string captions, you may want to write letters to all local councillors, local officials and the Commissioner about your blog.

Don't expect magic but if you strain a bit to ensure the documentation is exposing the state agencies some action may be forthcoming.