February 12, 2011

Let's keep a watch on our roads

We are trying out a civic audit exercise in Adyar. Keeping a watch on the condition of 
some neighbourhood roads / streets.

It is a very small effort, a voluntary one. And we have called it Roads Watch.

We started this when some of us who are interested in civic affairs realised late last year that most of our roads were possibly in the worst state ever.

Chennai Corporation had many reasons to advance and some may have been genuine too - unexpected rains, ongoing civic projects that hindered road laying, expected monsoon and the like.

And then, our local councillors floated proposals for relaying roads. This was a good time to start the audit exercise.

Civic activist Shekar Raghavan who works out of his Besant Nagar apartment is anchoring this project.

His job is to jot down reports that Adyarites file about the state of the roads in their colony or nagar.

We expect people who call him will be honest and factual. Of course, there are Adyarites who call to say that their streets have not been relaid for 5 or 6 years. Do they have a record to show for this? They do not. Obviously, we cannot record such data.

There has been a steady flow of specific information and it is published in the Adyar Times.

At this point, the civic body is engaged in relaying roads/streets. So the audit will be useful when Adyarites follow-up their Road Watch and report the condition in 
2 / 4 / 6 months down the line. Residents whose streets have never been relaid may want to maintain photo records.

This audit is not being undertaken to expose the Chennai Corporation, its officers or its contractors.

The Commissioner has said an independent team checks the quality of the works.

However, citizens have the responsibility to take greater interest in civic projects worth many crores of rupees. The efforts will enable local officers to be sincere and responsible, contract work to be reviewed and grassroot democracy to function well.

If you have ideas or want to get involved in this little effort, share your thoughts or email your reports.

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