This alternative system is a result of the advice to councillors by the CM in June to mend their ways

The councillor of a ward that comprises a high-end locality in the city summoned a resident to his office this weekend. A messenger of the councillor had appeared earlier in the day, hours after the resident started the process of demolition of his dilapidated house to construct a new residence, after an agonising wait of over five months. As the resident had submitted all records and paid the legally required amount of Rs.75,000 to obtain the demolition permit from the Chennai Corporation, he was puzzled.

The resident, who had voted for the councillor just a few months ago, noticed that there was a marked change in the messenger’s tone, compared to his tone during the campaign for the Corporation council elections last year.

Even though he was reluctant to meet the councillor, he was apprehensive of the consequences of not visiting. When he went to the councillor’s office on Monday, he was unable to meet him, and was asked to come later. After going through months of red tape for the permit, the resident realised that yet another agonising wait had begun.

Many councillors have now begun to summon residents to their offices to collect money. Earlier, they used to come directly and talk to residents to obtain money from them. This alternative system of money collection, is a result of the advice to councillors by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in June to mend their ways. Coming down heavily on AIADMK councillors in the Chennai Corporation for indulging in corrupt practices and exceeding all limits in committing irregularities, the Chief Minister even read out the names of many councillors and pointed to the allegations against them. Councillors admitted that the Chief Minister even conveyed that she might be forced to dissolve the Corporation council.

Underscoring that “excesses” by DMK councillors during the previous regime played a major role in the DMK losing power, she pointed to the fact that existing councillors too, were collecting money from every possible source.

In a week when residents seem to be in high spirits on account of the completion of training for licensed surveyors for extension of the online building approval system in all 15 zones, the rise in number of summons from councillors has emerged as a cause of concern.

After the expansion of the limits of the Corporation from 174 sq km to 426 sq km, the civic body expects the number of building plan proposals to touch 20,000 this year. So far, it has been giving online approval to nearly 8,000 plans annually.

The online approval system was introduced in 2009 and today covers the entire city except five of the eight newly-added zones to the Corporation’s boundaries. The five zones that comprise these areas will become part of the online system this week. All the goodwill gained by the online system, may just be damaged by the “summons” issued by councillors to residents.

This alternative system is a result of the advice to councillors by the CM in June to mend their ways

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