December 02, 2012

Be a civic campaigner in Chennai

There is lots more than smileys, wows and Sena-bashing on FaceBook.

For many it is a hub to chatter.

For others, there are ideas to share, points to make.

And for a journalist like me looking for stories on local issues, FB can also give leads.

I got one for this column.

Sundararaman Chintamani is a IT professional. He has varied interests and is a true-blue Mylaporean. And he looks around his neighbourhood and his workplace to talk about issues that affect us all.

Sometime ago, he seems to have blogged local civic issues.

Some days ago, Sundararaman had a long post on his FaceBook page. And it was serious stuff.

His observation was on one issue related to private traffic to IT campuses in Sholinganallur. He notes that there are many major IT companies in a ELCOT campus.

He says, daily over 1000 people come to this campus in cars. During peak hours, these people spend over 10 minutes every day, both in the mornings and evenings at the Sholinganallur traffic signal junction.

Sundararaman notes that if one roughly calculates the fuel spent while idling, it would touch rupees one crore on an annual basis.

Also, the loss on personal time would be more than Rs.5 crore.

So, is there a way to save lots of money?

Sundararaman works in the OMR zone. He says there are two gates to the ELCOT campus.  The rear gate from OMR side is always kept closed. He says the informal reason cited for this closure is the loss of revenue for the toll gate.

He says many people who may like to use this gate would have already paid the toll at the previous toll gate.

Sundararaman argues that ELCOT is keen about security and does not consider alternate ideas like special passes for IT staff.  "If the rear gate is opened permanently many IT company employees can save a lot time in travel. The fuel savings will be huge," he argues.

Finally, by rough calculations, Sundararaman says the total loss on fuel waste, idling time at the signal and going down to a further gate is Rs. 59,900,000 per annum.

There may be holes in this case but such observations/ suggestions help us address key, local issues.

We need observations, notes and audits. We also need campaigns and campaigners.

And we need state and private agencies to respect ideas and suggestions, evaluations and audit of/by the people.

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