Two more corporations in the city- but to what purpose and what aims?
Following the announcement of the State Minister MK Stalin that Chennai’s suburbs would have separate Corporations, one for the Ambattur-Tiruvottiyur area and the other for Tambaram and its environs, the administration went ahead and made its plans for the Tambaram Corporation available to the public. During the process of consultation, the lack of clarity on what the new South Chennai Corporation would do and what benefits people could expect came through most strongly. Most importantly it was not clear as to what the Government had in mind by suddenly bestowing Corporation status on an area that was a conglomeration of a municipality and several panchayats.
The Government has obviously not thought through the whole process and has evidently merely expected to cash in on the goodwill that such an announcement would bring in. Those who attended the public consultation, and as was to be expected there were more politicians than the general public, had several questions to ask, none of which was satisfactorily answered.
- Where would the Corporation be headquartered? This by itself became the subject of acrimony as leaders of rival parties wanted the HQ to be in their own strongholds.
- What would be the area under the South Chennai Corporation? Here again there were queries with some leaders taking the opportunity to lobby for their localities being declared as municipalities outside the purview of the new Corporation.
- Some residents have said that they would prefer their areas remaining municipalities as they feel that a large Corporation would not look into local problems.
- The fundamental question that remained unanswered concerned the real benefit that would accrue to residents if their area became a Corporation. There was no clear policy on how the quality of life would improve.
- The balancing out of benefits came in for protests from those who represented areas that were better off than others. They feared that their funds would be diverted to other localities that were lacking basic amenities.
Significantly, the CMDA is yet to come out with a statement on how this new Corporation will affect the Chennai Master Plan which is under implementation. Will the new Corporation follow the plan when it comes to development? Have the areas under the proposed Corporation been covered by the plan? There are no answers to these questions.
How the new body will interact with Chennai Corporation and what will be the degree of co-operation between the two especially in a scenario where the two come to be headed by political parties of opposing ideologies also needs to be looked at.
Public consultation is still ongoing and is expected to continue for a month. Plans for the Ambattur-Tiruvottiyur Corporation are also expected to be unveiled in a day or two and public opinion will be invited there also.
The public has however expressed its unhappiness at the lack of prior publicity for these consultations. Only a few managed to participate and perhaps the CMDA felt that it was better off that way.