Residents from various parts of Chennai on Saturday demanded a new set of guidelines for infrastructure maintenance in the city.
Civic aspects pertaining to such guidelines were discussed at a workshop organised by Transparent Chennai, to compile a citizens’ charter of changes required in urban programmes for the poor.
Over Rs. 5,324 crore has been allocated for infrastructure in Chennai, since 2005, under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) of the previous government.
The newly-elected government is also expected to invest in smart cities.
Participants at the workshop stressed the need for changes that facilitate pro-poor urban development.
“Information needs to be made publicly available. Such information in the local language can cover policies, programmes, projects, eligibility and beneficiaries. Each resident should know the target areas and expected outcomes,” said a resident.
Researchers at Transparent Chennai alleged 0.1 per cent of the Chennai Corporation budget for 2013-2014 was earmarked explicitly for the urban poor.
“Existing guidelines have not been adhered to, with overspending and delay in projects. Of the 35 projects implemented under the urban infrastructure and governance sub-mission of JNNURM in Chennai over seven years, 10 projects have overspent. Perumbakkam housing project is yet to have a social impact assessment. Potential beneficiaries are not aware of the quality of construction and services,” said a researcher.
Some residents pointed to the absence of accountability, resulting in poor service delivery and inadequate access to basic municipal services.
“We do not know how beneficiaries are selected. Some slums are redeveloped on the same site. We want officials to tell us why some slums cannot be redeveloped in-situ. Without such information, some people are misleading residents,” said a participant.
Most of the residents said they were unaware of open house meetings with officials on infrastructure projects.