Saturday, June 27, 2009

Slum footballers vow to ‘rise like phoenix’

Slum footballers vow to ‘rise like phoenix’
Published Date: 26-June-2009
G Saravanan

Chennai, June 25: IT was all over within a few minutes for Suresh, an acclaimed footballer from Vyasarpadi slums, when his settlement was ravaged in a fire accident a few days ago.

He had represented Nethaji Sports Club and Central Excise teams in several tournaments and won laurels. The fire licked everything including his house and now, Suresh and his four brothers even do not have another pair of dress to wear or a roof over their head.

(Nearly 40 huts and property worth a few lakhs were destroyed in a fire in Vyasarpadi in North Chennai on Monday.) “What can I do if an employer, before whom I gave an interview a few days ago, asks me to produce original certificates for confirming my job there?” wondered an inconsolable Suresh.

Not only Suresh but other aspiring footballers from the slum, groomed by the local Slum Children Sports Talent and Education Development Society (SCSTEDS), are in a state of shock. Their recently arrived stocks of 250 footballs, 125 pair of boots and colourful jerseys from Jalandhar turned into ashes in the mishap.

SCSTEDS’s president N Umapathy, said if not for the fire mishap the aspiring footballers were dreaming of ‘Vision 2014’, a mission in which the slum-based club was aiming at sending at least one among them to represent India.Himself a club footballer, Umapathy was anguished at the way a large number of youngsters in his slum were taking to bad habits. Just to change their mindset he formed SCSTEDS in 2000.

What had begun as a move for attitudinal change soon evolved into a full passion and now, over 250 slum children, as young as seven-year-olds, attend daily coaching sessions. “Though we have lost everything, and the budding footballers are demoralised, we have not lost our hope and we will rise like a phoenix from ashes very soon,” Umapathy said.
He also assured that his club’s plan to organise a school-level football matches by July-end still stands.
Meanwhile, after a gap of two days, Umapathy arranged two new footballs and children started rolling it just to forget the pain of loss.
The slum children may lost everything to the flames, but their faith to overcome the crisis tells the die-hard attitude of locals.

Despite CM’s intervention, ship on mercy mission gets no relief

Published Date: 24-June-2009
G Saravanan

Chennai, June 23: FOUR days after the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi shot off a letter to Union External Affairs Minister S M Krishna seeking immediate intervention on the issue related to a ship on a mercy mission to Lanka - but anchored in international waters off Chennai Port for the past few days - there has been any progress on the ground.

On Friday last, soon after reports that MV Captain Ali was anchored off Chennai and waiting for a positive response from the Indian government for unloading the relief material since Colombo turned away the ship from its sea territory claiming that it was hired by the LTTE, hectic activities began in Tamil Nadu political circles.

Chief Minister Karunanidhi deputed his Higher Education Minister Ponmudy with a detailed letter to meet Krishna in New Delhi personally. Ponmudy met Krishna in Delhi on Friday evening and urged him to persuade Lanka to allow unloading of the relief materials sent by Tamils in Europe through the ship.

By late Friday, there were reports from New Delhi that Krishna had assured speedy action on TN request. Four days have gone now, but there is no forward movement in the matter.

According to a shipping agent, the ship was asked to move into deep sea on Monday, perhaps to keep the media at bay. Confirming the development, a senior official of Chennai Port Trust said: “We did not get any request from anyone including its local agents for any help and the ship is now in high seas.”

Meanwhile, VCK chief and MP Thol Thirumavalavan criticised New Delhi’s apathy towards the ship and condemned the Central government’s indirect move to force the ship out of the Indian Ocean.

Aid ship crew’s SOS for help

Published Date: 20-June-2009

G Saravanan

Chennai, June 19: THE health condition of 13 crew members of the mercy mission ship, MV Captain Ali, anchored in the international waters outside Chennai, is fast deteriorating and two of them fell sick as the stock of fresh water in the ship went down to alarming levels.

According to Agni Subramaniam, executive director of Manitham and coordinator of things in the city for the ship, said, “Of the 13 crew in the ship, two people, one from Iceland and another from Syria, fell sick and they wanted to return to their country for treatment via Chennai.”

Both the people who fell sick on board were members of ex-Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM). He also said that the freshwater reserve in the ship has gone down to alarming levels and if they were not given immediate supplies, there is a strong possibility that every one in the ship would fall sick.

A c c o rding to an emailed reply to Express from Vanni Mercy Mission headquarters in London, Arjunan Ethirveerasingam, co-ordinator of the mission, said that since Sri Lanka government refused to allow the ship to unload the relief materials (cargo) in Colombo, the ship is currently awaiting permission to unload the same in Chennai Port after due permission.

The ship is currently anchored at 18 nautical miles from Chennai coast (location GPS coordinates: 13 06n 80 19e) and awaiting permission from the Chennai Port authority to enter Chennai Port and discharge (unload) its humanitarian cargo for distribution to refugees living in the state. The ship with loads of relief materials gathered from different parts of the European nations set sail on May 7 from Fos-Sur- Mer, France, on the second leg of the “Mercy Mission to Vanni”. Captain Ali is carrying approximately 884 metric

tons of food, medicine and other essential humanitarian relief items destined for the 330,000 Tamil civilians in the Vanni area of Northern Sri Lanka displaced by the war. The “Mercy Mission to Vanni” began the first leg of its journey from the Port of Ipswich, UK, on April 20.,

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dubbed Tigers, Indians in custody

Published Date: 17/6/2009 - (NIE)

G Saravanan

Chennai, June 16: SETHU Kannan, an Indian national, has been languishing in a government-run special camp for Lankan refugees at Poonamallee despite a bail issued by a court in a case against him for allegedly smuggling ball bearings, used in ammunition, for the LTTE.

The 35-year-old has been illegally detained for the last one year. Three others — Bharathi Dasan, Bhoominathan and Sashi Kumar from the coastal Ramanathapuram district and Pudhucherry, also face a similar fate as the Q Branch of the Tamil Nadu police has portrayed them as Sri Lankan refugees and accomplices in the ball bearings smuggling case.

Like his father, Kannan, a resident of Vattamvalsai village near Uchipuli in Ramanathapuram district, used to visit Sri Lanka on business. During one such visit in the late 80s, ethnic conflict in the nation escalated all of a sudden forcing Kannan to return to Tamil Nadu with a group of Tamil refugees.

Upon his arrival, local police at Mandapam detained the whole group, including Kannan, for interrogation and sent them to nearby refugee camps. Though Kannan tried to convince officials that he was an Indian and should be allowed to go home, they shifted him to a Sivakasi refugee camp.

Kannan, meanwhile, managed to contact his family. Camp officials then allowed him to leave the camp to live with his family. However, in March 2007, the Q Branch arrested Kannan from his house for alleged involvement in a ball bearings smuggling case.

He was sent to a prison near Trichy and a case was registered against him. Kannan moved a bail plea in the case and a Trichy court gave him bail in February 2008 after the police failed to file a chargesheet within the stipulated time.

But the Q Branch forcibly ‘rearrested’ him in front of the jail entrance and sent him to a special camp for Lankan refugees at Chengalpattu. Then he was moved to another special camp at Poonamallee. When contacted, a senior Q Branch official said that like Kannan many inmates in the camp claimed they were Indians and “we felt that it was just to evade proceedings.” On a question about Kannan’s nationality, the official said, “We will prove his nationality in court.”

Kannan’s advocate Pugalenthi has filed a petition in the Madras High Court seeking his release from the camp meant for Lankan Tamil refugees linked to the banned LTTE outfit. “No one in Q Branch was willing to take this case to its logical end,” said Pugalenthi.,

For family, wait gets longer

Published Date: 17/6/2009

G Saravanan

Chennai, June 16: FOR Sethu Kannan’s illiterate wife Kaleeswari and three children, Sarojini, Sudhakar and Suresh, abject poverty will not deter their hope of bringing their father out of a special camp in the city exclusively meant for Lankan refugees.

“We have all the documents, from ration card to passport, to prove that Kannan is an Indian and we will not allow our sole bread winner to languish in the camp under illegal detention,” Kaleeswari told Express over phone from Ramanathapuram.

In the 80s, Kannan went to Lanka for business. As the ethnic crisis escalated, he escaped from Lanka and landed in the Tamil Nadu coast along with Tamil refugees. Ever since, he has been in and out of Lankan refugee camps and jails multiple times.

The cops claimed that he was working for the LTTE. For a few years, Kannan was allowed to rejoin his family in Ramanathapuram district.That is when Kannan got married to Kaleeswari from a nearby village.

This was in the mid-90s and they have three children: a daughter and two sons. With the family’s sole breadwinner now in detention, Kaleeswari’s life changed a lot. She now earns Rs 100 per day as a daily wage labourer and looks after the children and her aged parents.

“When Q Branch picked up my husband outside the in February 2008 (despite bail orders), Kannan assured me that he will be back in six or seven months. Fifteen months have passed by , but he is yet to return,” a visibly shaken Kaleeswari told Express.

“As like other children, we also want our father to be with us on all days,” said his children. Sarojini, who is in Class VIII in a village school, aspires to become a lawyer so that no more Kannans are holed up in special camps illegally.

According to his lawyer Pugalenthi, Kannan’s detention might have happened based on his record as a refugee (at Mandapam camp), since they used to detain Lankan refugees for involvement in smuggling goods to the LTTE.,

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Indian Tamils languishing in Poonamalle special camp on hunger strike

G Saravanan:
Chennai, June 11:
Four Indian Tamils, languishing in special camps for Lankan Tamil refugees at Poonamalle and Chengalpet even after getting proper bail orders, have began their indefinite hunger strike inside the camp.
According to sources, all the four persons, three from coastal Ramanathapuram district and one from Union Territory of Pudhucherry, have refused taking food for the last few days apparently over the denial of their basic human rights for the last one-year.
However, the authorities managed to convince three others, but Sethu Kannan still continuing his hunger strike, the source added.
According to S Manoharan, a lawyer who represented such special camp detenu in Madras High Court regularly, said, “Most of them have sent their representations to the Home Secretary of the state proving their nationality but no one listen to them.”
Sethu Kannan was arrested in a smuggling case in 2007 and sent to Puzhal Prison. In 2008, he got bail in the case and released from jail. But, Q Branch of Tamil Nadu Police arrested him at the prison gate and sent him to special camp for Lankan Tamil refugees at Poonamalle for interrogation.
The camp specially used to house people who enter the country without valid papers, but most of the detainees here are only Lankan Tamils, Manoharan said.

South Korea to free two Indian sailors held for oil sleek

Chennai, June 11:
The news of apparent release of two Indian marine officers, who were arrested by the South Korean authorities for causing the country’s worst ever oil spill 17 months ago, came as a big reprieve for sailors community living in the country.
Reacting to the verdict setting both Indian mariners free, Capt. Rajesh Tandon, managing director of V Ships India (which employed both), said, “This morning’s verdict by the Appeal Court of the Daejeon District Court Ist Criminal Division in South Korea, to once again find the senior officers of the Hebei Spirit, not guilty of the crime of destruction of property, following the ruling by Korea’s Supreme Court that the two should never have been imprisoned, will be hailed by all in the shipping industry as justice at last.”
During the fist week of December in 2007, the Hebei Spirit, a Hong Kong-registered tanker fully loaded with crude, was at anchor off the west coast of South Korea near the port of Taean.
A drifting South Korean crane barge of Samsung Heavy Industries, which had broken free from the tugboat towing it, punched holes in the tanker's sides. More than 10,000 tons of crude oil poured from the tanker into the sea, coating a 45-kilometer stretch of the coast. It was the largest oil spill in South Korean history.
Contrary to the international (maritime) laws, the Korean authorities detained Captain Jasprit Chawla and Chief Officer Syam Chetan (both from Punjab State) of the Hebei Spirit and issued exit ban on them till the legal proceedings gets over there.
“The Appellate Division of the district court during its review in April found that the two officers could not be jailed as they were not responsible for the destruction of property,” Rajesh added.
The verdict will enable the two senior officers of the crude carrier to return to their families in India after more than 550 days of an enforced stay in Korea, some spent in prison.
While the verdict enables the two officers to return home, the charges of causing pollution still stand and V.Ships is determined to work towards having these charges removed from the officers' records, Rajesh further said.
Speaking to Express over phone from Mumbai, Abdulgani Y Serang, general secretary of the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI), said, "Though justice was delayed in this case, we welcome the verdict which proved that both the Indian officers were not at fault.”
The management of V Ships also thanked people across the world, leading shipping companies, all the major shipping organisations, unions and seafarers in India who marched and demonstrated to pressurise Korean government to release both the officers.

Stalin kick starts Metro Rail project near Koyambedu

Chennai, June 10:

Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin inaugurated the piling work for the construction of elevated viaduct from Koyambedu to Ashok Nagar for the Chennai Metro Rail project at a venue near Koyambedu.
Speaking after the formal launch of works for the ambitious project for the city’s transportation, Stalin said, “The estimated cost of this project is Rs.14,600 crores including escalation, Central taxes and interest during the period of construction.”
While 59 per cent of the cost will be met by concessional Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) loan of the government of Japan, Indian government and Tamil Nadu administration would share the remaining 41 per cent, Stalin added.
The state Cabinet took a decision to implement the Metro Rail project in Chennai in June 2006. This project aims at providing Chennai with a fast, reliable, convenient, efficient, modern and affordable mode of public transport, as a lasting solution to the city’s growing transport needs.
The Government ordered the preparation of a detailed project report (DPR), which was entrusted to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. The project was declared a ‘special initiative’ under the direct control of the Chief Minister.
The project has now been transferred to the Deputy Chief Minister. The DPR was submitted on November 1, 2007 and the Tamil Nadu Cabinet approved the project a week later.
The government created a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) Chennai Metro Rail Limited for implementing this project. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs at the Central Government approved the Chennai Metro Rail Project at its meeting on January 28, 2009.
Phase-1 of the Chennai Metro Rail Project consists two corridors with a combined length of 45 kms. Corridor-I, with a length of 23.1 kms. (14.3 kms. underground and 8.8 kms. elevated), will run from Washermenpet to the Airport via Anna Salai.
Corridor-II, with length of 22 kms. (9.7 kms. underground and 12.3 kms. elevated), will run from Chennai Central to St. Thomas Mount via Koyambedu. The portions of Corridor-I from Washermenpet to Saidapet on Anna Salai, and Corridor-II on Periyar EVR Salai and Anna Nagar Second Avenue, will be underground and the remainder would be elevated one.
Chennai Metro Rail Limited has awarded its first tender on February 13, 2009 for the construction of elevated viaduct from Koyambedu to Ashok Nagar for a length of 4.5 kms. to Soma Enterprise Limited, Hyderabad, at a cost of Rs.199.20 crores.
Soil tests have been conducted at three locations in 100 Feet Road (opposite to SAF Games Village (Koyambedu), opposite to Ambica Empire, Vadapalani and opposite to Hotel Karaikudi, Ashok Nagar). Five metres on either side of the median of the road (approximately one lane) for a length of 80 metres are used in each location for the soil tests.
Metro Rail alignment will be running on an elevated structure after Thirumangalam up to St Thomas Mount in the Corridor-II. For this purpose, pile will be driven and piers will be installed over the pile cap and superstructure (box girders) will be constructed on the top of it.
The Chennai Metro Rail project has set a record amongst contemporary projects as the fastest in reaching financial closure, by securing Japanese Government funding in just 12 months and Government of India funding in 14 months, whereas this process took more than 2 ½ years in other cities.
Besides other officials, K S Sripathi, Chief Secretary, T V Somanathan, managing director of Chennai Metro Rail, M Subramanian, Mayor of Chennai Corporation and Ankineedu Maganti, managing director of Soma Enterprises participating in the ceremony. The whole project is expected to be operational by 2014-15.

Clean chit for family of five from US after H1N1 scare at city airport

Published Date: 14/6/2009
G Saravanan

Chennai, June 13: This scare at the aerodrome was of a different kind; And, at the end it was somewhat like a hoax: at least a happy story — well, almost. Health officials at the Anna International Airport swung into action in the wee hours on Saturday after a family of five Indians travelling from California was found with suspected swine flu symptoms on their touchdown here. However, by evening the results of their tests showed the parents and their three children didn’t suffer from the (A) H1N1 pandemic. The doctors, nonetheless, advised the family to be in selfquarantine for a few more days, according to officials at the airport.

Earlier in the day, around 2.30 am, Muralitharan, 45, a doctor by profession, his wife Sarika, 35, and their children, aged six and four and six months were suspected to be carrying the H1N1 virus when they arrived in city by a Lufthansa flight. They were found suffering from cough, cold and high fever — visible symptoms for swine flu. During the mandatory screening, the team of doctors quarantined them at an area designated for such cases in the airport premises. Soon they were sent to the Communicable Diseases Hospital (CDH) at Tondiarpet.

CHD Director Dr Lakshmi Devi said several pertinent tests were conducted on the family considering they were coming from the zone that was badly affected with the feared disease. “We also collected blood samples of the quarantined persons to check for H1N1 virus.” However, the Chennai Corporation that runs the hospital later informed that the doctors did not find any clinically visible symptoms of swine flue on the five persons. “No test proved them being HINI-positive,” Health Officer P Kuganantham told newspersons. Doctors at Chennai airport have in the last few weeks collected around 40 blood samples of air passengers with suspected swine flu virus from different destinations — and all of tested negative during clinical tests, he added. The CDH discharged all the five, but as a precaution counselled self-quarantine for few days at home. The airport sources said the family had their plan to take the next available flight to Coimbatore so as to reach their native Telugupalayam. The checkup did derail that, but the family can still breathe easy.,

Powerplay over sealing of fruit shops

Published Date: 12/6/2009
G Saravanan

Chennai, June 11: IN what could have been a clear case of double standards in the functioning of Chennai Corporation, a senior official overruled a subordinate officer’s action to seal shops found selling artificially ripened mangoes using calcium carbide stones in Koyambedu. According to sources, a team of health officials from Corporation’s Zone-V (Kilpauk) recently inspected several fruit shops located inside the Koyambedu main fruit market to check the reported sales of artificially ripened mangoes. After the inspection, the officials collected samples of mangoes from those shops to ‘verify’ if they were artificially ripened.

Based on the verification report, an official linked to the civic body’s health department ordered sealing of five shops for selling ‘artificially ripened mangoes’ two days ago. Ironically, another senior official in the zone overturned the sealing order and allowed reopening of those shops the very next day.

The turnaround came after a group of fruit vendors from Koyambedu fruit market ‘successfully negotiated’ with the senior official and giving their version of the sequence of events happened from inspection till sealing of shops. When contacted, the health official concerned said they did go on an inspection at Koyambedu fruits market few days ago but denied of any such overruling by another senior official in the artificially ripened mangoes case.

However, the official who actually overturned the sealing orders of health official confirmed that indeed those shops were ordered to seal initially for selling artificially ripened mangoes. “After a meeting with fruit vendors representing those shop owners, we were satisfied with their answers, and so we asked our officials to unseal them,”the official added. When asked how it was possible, the official explained that the shops, which were sealed, were empty that time (of sealing) and added that there was no point in sealing empty shops. The shops selling artificially ripened mangoes were reportedly full of stock when they were inspected few days ago, but during the action it was found empty.

Big time encroachers stay put

Published Date: 10/6/2009 - (NIE)

G Saravanan

Chennai, June 9: AT a time when the administration is trying to recover areas encroached upon by voiceless people in the state, officials turn a blind eye on clearly established encroachments along the Injambakkam Beach, that too even after judicial orders demanding strict action against the people regardless of their clout in society. At Injambakkam beach, nearly 50 acres of beach area were reportedly encroached upon by several influential people for the last 15 years.

The Kancheepuram district administration appears to be still reluctant in clearing them despite three Madras High Court orders asking the removal. The court ordered removal of encroachments at Injambakkam Beach in 1997 and then in 2007, and this time, in December last. But the district officials have not taken any concrete action yet.

Braving several intimidation attempts, ‘Injambakkam’ H Sekar, founder of Nature Trust and a local resident, had filed a writ petition in Madras High Court last year seeking the removal of all the illegal and unauthorised encroachments and structures on Injambakkam beach adjoining the lands in survey numbers 2,7, 8, 11, 12 and 15.

Based on Sekar’s petition, the High Court ordered the district administration in December last to remove those encroachments along the beach and to file a detailed report on steps taken for the removal. A week after the order, the district Collector filed an affidavit saying that based on previous court orders on the same issue, notices were served to 19 people mentioned as encroachers and action was being taken.

In the affidavit, the district official submitted that besides two (beachside) encroachments that were removed already, eviction drive along the particular seashore in Injambakkam was scheduled several times, but due to ‘unforeseen administrative’ reasons it did not happen.

In reality, two months ago, the officials concerned performed the ritual of ‘removing encroachment’ at the beach (at two different points) clearly leaving those encroached beach villas held by influential people, Sekar said. “A powerful union minister, several industrialists, an educationalist and people close to a sprawling amusement park near the area were the encroachers,” he further added.

When Express tried to get details pertaining to the delay in executing the eviction drive in the seashore area, village panchayat officials avoided answering directly on the issue and sought lame excuses. When contacted, a senior official responsible for removing encroachment at Injambakkam Beach, said that the district administration removed all encroachments along the beach and increased its vigil to ensure that there were no further such encroachments.

Fewer transfer opportunities upset corpn school teachers

Published Date: 8/6/2009 -
G Saravanan

Chennai, June 7: WHILE the Chennai Mayor rejoices over Corporation-run schools consistently showing good results and improving the pass percentage in public examinations in the last few years, teachers of the schools, who aspire to move out of the city, are a peeved lot.

The teachers from other districts are said to be depressed over what they allege to be a denial of their basic rights to live with their family by getting a transfer to their native places through annual counselling.

Though Corporation school teachers are also selected through proper procedures like the Government school teachers, when it comes to transfer counselling, they claim that they feel discriminated. Unlike Government school teachers, Corporation school teachers can not move out unless a replacement is found for the particular post.

The Corporation’s stand has almost made it impossible for many teachers to think of a transfer. The situation is so bad for a few teachers that they never live with their family members other than the annual vacation. This year alone 78 teachers, including 30 women, applied for NOC from civic body to participate in transfer counselling but none of them is sure of making it finally.

“My three-year old daughter has to undergo a heart operation in the next few days in a local hospital near my native place, but I don’t think I would be able to join her during those crucial days when the child would like her parents to be with her,” said a visibly upset teacher, hailing from another district.

The Chennai Corporation runs 135 primary schools, 109 middle schools, 65 high schools and 27 higher secondary schools, employing more than 3600 teachers, including the 500-odd ones selected through Teachers Recruitment Board (TRB).

When the 500-odd teachers were recruited for Corporation schools through TRB few years ago, they were promised transfer to their native places through counselling after a year.

When these teachers mounted pressure on the education department after the one-year period, officials at the civic body issued the mandatory ‘no objection certificate’ (NOC) needed to participate in transfer counselling.

But they were in for a rude shock as the NOC came with a string attached. According to the letter, in the event of a transfer, the teacher will be relieved only after another teacher joins the particular school for the same job.

However, a senior Corporation official attributed it good intentions. In view of the good results produced by the schools, they do not want the teachers to leave and the condition in the NOC was included just to ensure that the academic activities were not disrupted, the official said.

Dead vice-chairman still alive on Thiruvottiyur Municipality website

G Saravanan:
Chennai, June 6:
While the Tamil Nadu government boasts as best information technology (IT) destination in the country on one side, browsing through the state-maintained websites reveals that many sites (that serve vital government details to whoever access it) has not been updated for almost six months.
There was a classic example to prove the case where the government failed to update its websites in regular basis at Thiruvottiyur Municipality website (, where its vice chairman K Veerasamy was died six months ago, but the site still shows him as alive and serving the people there by holding the post.
But the real story at the municipality circles is something different. After the demise of DMK party leader Veerasamy, who was revered as stalwart even among the opponent party leaders in Thiruvottiyur for the past four decades, the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission conducted bye-election in February this year to fill the ward (32) councilor post that went vacant after his death.
The DMK party in Thiruvottiyur had nominated his son Sathish Kumar for the post and he won the seat with handsome margin. Likewise, another ward councilor V Ramanathan was elected for the vice chairman post held by Veerasamy in the municipality.
“If such government websites, which serve every fundamental information to visitors, did not have proper updates, the whole purpose of giving online information to the public is defeated,” said Sekar, a ward councilor in the municipality.
This is the state of many state-government maintained websites where there were no updates for several months, he added.
When contacted the chairman R Jayaraman of the municipality, he acknowledged that the (municipal) website indeed carrying the wrong information as Veerasamy died some six months ago.
We have informed the government about the developments in the municipality months ago and the administrators of the website should have updated with the new information, Jayaraman added.

Ambattur Municipality ignores RTI plea

Published Date: 6/6/2009 - (NIE)

G Saravanan

Chennai, June 5: TWO months have passed by now, but officials at the Ambattur Municipality are yet to reply to an RTI application filed by Bharathi Cultural and Welfare Association, Korattur, seeking details about the expenditure incurred while desilting North Canal in their locality. In an RTI application dated March 23, 2009, V Jayapalan, secretary of the association, a united body of several TNHB colonies in Korattur, had sought details like how much was really spent on desilting the North Canal and also about the duration of the cleaning work from Ambattur Municipality.

“We the residents of Korattur are disappointed with the lackadaisical attitude of the municipal authorities, who possibly do not like people to know the truth,” lamented Jayapalan.

The highly polluted and encroached North Canal is a perennial problem for the local residents, said Seshagiri Rao, joint secretary of the association. “The particular canal was not cleaned or desilted for the last three years. After media reports on the issue last August, the former commissioner of Ambattur Municipality Chakrapani had sanctioned Rs 10 lakh. But no one knew where the amount had indeed gone, but the canal remains the same,” Rao said. As the canal was not desilted on time, the entire colony along the banks was inundated and rainwater entered into every house during last November. Few days after the torrential rain, Chief Secretary K S Sripathy, visited the area and met the affected residents.

“When Sripathy landed in our colony, I explained to him the issues in person how the canal is causing floods during rainy season,” Rao further said. Even after his visit, nothing fructified and finally the residents filed a RTI petition with Ambattur Municipality seeking details of expenditure, but there was no reply even after two months. Reply to any RTI queries should be sent within 30 days to the applicant and failing to comply the period would invite fine.


Published Date: 2/6/2009 - (NIE)

G Saravanan

Chennai, June 1: TWO buildings located on Anna Salai and Arcot Road, which were constructed in contravention to Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority regulations have ‘escaped’ demolition for the last two decades as files relating to them have mysteriously been either ‘destroyed’ or ‘misplaced.’

R Natarajan, a research scholar who unearthed the startling details, told Express that he had lodged a complaint with the CMDA seeking details about the illegal buildings and, when the agency refused to reveal the facts, also filed an RTI application in May 2008. The agency then tried to delay its response using every option available. Irked over the CMDA’s attitude, Natarajan moved the State Information Commission, which ordered the agency to issue free copies of the files.

During the commission’s hearing, the CMDA admitted for the first time that one of the files related to an illegal building had been destroyed and that a file of another building was ‘missing’ since 1994. The CMDA did not state who had authorised the file to be destroyed. The RTI reply also revealed that the agency had claimed falsely that the buildings had been demolished in the early 1990s.

However, a senior official in the CMDA denied any wrongdoing in both the cases. Asked about the file that was destroyed, the official said, “based on the government’s order, every agency usually destroys files to minimise the load on the archives section and this file could have fallen under some category by which it had to be destroyed.” On the missing file, the official said that it could still be traced from the archives.

Graffiti-free Kamarajar, Anna Salai from June 10

Published Date: 29-5-2009 - (NIE)

G Saravanan

Chennai, May 28: COME June 10 and Kamarajar Salai and Anna Salai in the city would be graffiti-free.Cracking the whip on those defacing the walls in these areas, the Chennai Corporation said graffiti, posters or hoardings will not be allowed on these roads as they have been designated ‘poster free zones’.

Making the announcement during a debate at the council meeting here on Thursday, Mayor Subramanian said that initially, the ban would be strictly enforced on Anna Salai and Kamarajar Salai and later extended to other arterial roads and areas. However, the Mayor did not elaborate on the kind of action the corporation would take against violators.

While the 5km stretch of Kamarajar Salai has important government establishments like All India Radio, Madras University campus, Secretariat and Reserve Bank buildings, the 14km long Anna Salai is considered as a gateway to the city for visiting foreign dignitaries.

Earlier during the debate, opposition floor leader Saidai P Ravi said that a majority of Chennaiites were happy with the adherence to the ban on posters enforced in connection with the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls. When officials could ensure a graffiti-free period during the elections, why cannot the same officials enforce it permanently in the city, wondered Ravi.

Meanwhile, the Corporation has also decided to crackdown on sale of unsafe drinking water. The Mayor announced that the civic body would seek help of the police in filing criminal cases against those shop owners who sold drinking water in sachets.