Lack of funding chokes development works
Provision of basic amenities and its maintenance under the Namakku Naame Thittam have taken a hit due to fund-crunch. Swedha Radhakrishnan reports
CHENNAI: While the Chennai Corporation focuses on improving infrastructure of the city through various innovative projects, several residents’ welfare associations and ward councillors lament over the lack funds and donors to carry out development works under the Namakku Naame Thittam.
Though many neighbourhoods in the city do not have basic amenities, corporation officials claim that the work to rectify, build and maintain them are on hold due to insufficient funding.
Namakku Naame Thittam was initiated a year ago, where residents and ward members can carry out developmental projects such as construction of schools, parks, playgrounds, and also maintenance, and other required projects in their respective areas. Residents shall contribute at least one-third of funding for the projects. The State government has allocated Rs 49.71 crore for the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC).
Though the scheme was welcomed by the public, there have been many complaints that the civic body authorities were not coordinating with the residents to carry out works.
“For the past few months, we’ve been urging zonal officials to construct a shutter near the waterbody in Ayyappan Nagar, as the untreated sewage is being discharged into the storm water drains and it has not been desilted. So, we’re forced to remove the bund in the lake for free flow of water,” said S Sethuraman, a resident of Madipakkam. “If the shutter had been installed, it would have stopped garbage from entering into the lake and prevented water stagnation in the area during monsoon. However, there has been no response from the officials even after several discussions were held regarding the issue and the challenges residents face every year.”
Many residents are totally ignorant of the scheme because ward councillors hardly interact with them. Also, the GCC, at present, is hard-pressed to even start desilting storm water drains. When the situation is such that local body is unable to carry out basic necessities, developing an area does not make any sense.
“To register a complaint and resolve any issue, residents can get in touch with the zonal officer concerned. We’ll have to take it up with the higher officials. The point is that we’re never kept informed of any developments, even though we’re the primary stakeholders,” fumed V Jayaram, a civic activist and resident of T Nagar.
On the other hand, several wards carried out minor works such as replacing street lights, restoring fountains, and doing maintenance works in the parks and playgrounds. Ward councillors hesitate to begin any developmental work such as providing shelters for visitors in the area, claiming insufficient funds with the Corporation.
C Raghukumar, a resident of Perambur stated: “Whenever any grievance has been raised to the councillor and corporation official, the immediate response is ‘no funds and manpower’. When we request them to commence the work soon, they ask us to do it with our own funds. Not all residents can contribute. Even otherwise, if we have to pay for projects to provide basic amenities, what’s the need for a government and a local body?”
However, despite lack of funding, Ward 4 Councillor R Jayaraman said that they would soon begin painting anganwadi in the area. “We’ll also change the damaged name-boards of streets with the funds available from the corporation. But other works like road repair, maintenance of bus shelters, and construction of schools require donors, which we don’t have. So, these works are on hold,” he added.
Meanwhile, many ward councillors have constructed gyms, and anganwadis, installed street lights, and completed maintenance works in parks and playground with councillors’ funds. And they have utilised money from Namakku Naame Thittam for buying equipment for gyms and beautification works in the area.
Ward members also urged residents to contribute a small amount of money for the development works in the area since they’re unable to get sponsors.
Talking to DT Next, Mayor R Priya dismissed rumours on lack of funds and manpower, and stated that the development work has been carried out with the help of zonal officials.
“The Chennai corporation has sufficient funds under Namakku Naame Thittam. The remaining share can be contributed by volunteers to improve infrastructure in their respective areas. However, if any areas experience issues such as uncooperative civic body authorities and councillors, action will be taken against them,” she added.