‘Transparent Chennai' website launched to give information about the city

The amendments to the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act 1971 to be made shortly will not only make Chennai an economically vibrant and ecologically sustainable city, but also mark a major breakthrough in the urban development scenario, Minister for Information and Urban Development Parithi Illamvazhuthi said here on Monday. He was addressing the inaugural session of the World Habitat Day organised by the University of Madras and Centre for Development Finance, affiliated to IFMR.

Highlighting concerns related to dispersal of people living in metropolitan areas, need for more parking spaces to accommodate increasing vehicular traffic, pollution, and conservation of heritage structures, the Minister spoke about the need to implement policies more effectively and usher in more transparency in the processes.

Inaugurating the session, G. Thiruvasagam,Vice-Chancellor, University of Madras stressed the need to involve the society, especially youngsters in improving living conditions in cities. Apart from providing good housing, hygienic living conditions, proper sanitation, basic infrastructure and amenities that include food, water and electricity, he said it was equally important to ensure that the community was literate and rural places and people were not neglected in development.

British Deputy High Commissioner Mike Nithavrianakis talked about the need to embark on a path to sustainable development by addressing concerns such as climate change and rapid urbanisation.

Citing the event as an opportunity to reflect on the condition of our cities, retired IAS officer P.M. Belliappa said that it was time to remind ourselves of the collective responsibility to improve our habitat. He highlighted the importance of involving the community in preserving cultural artefacts and the monuments that served as historical reminiscences. “It's not right to associate culture with elitism, culture is what we all our lives represent,” he added.

At the function, www.Transparentchennai.com, an interactive website that provides useful information about the city was launched. Apart from details of major projects like flyovers and buildings, slums, bus routes, public toilets, the website has the contact details of elected representatives. Citizens interested in mapping their own information will be provided guidance, feedback and resources, said Nithya Raman, project head, Transparent Chennai. “The initiative will enable the cit3izens to understand the city better, know where things went wrong, seek accountability,” she added.