Residents complain about lack of transparency in procedure; want single-window system and clarification on charges
Pallavaram municipality has begun providing house service connections as part of a massive underground drainage project. Nearly 1,000 connections have already been provided to assessees in the municipality, even as residents seek greater transparency in the civic body's process of providing these connections.
Work on the project began in January 2006 . While the initial estimated cost at the start of the project was a little over Rs. 36 crore, it now stands at nearly Rs. 80 crore.
With the completion of the main and sub pumping stations as well as of the link with Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board's sewage treatment plant in Perungudi, the municipality is set to commission the project in a couple of months. The provision of house service connections has only begun recently. Connections are provided to those who have paid the initial deposit of Rs. 10,000 for the project and who have cleared all their dues to the local body and have submitted their applications for the service connection along with the necessary charges.
“Rates not uniform”
A section of residents however, claim the administration is not following proper procedures in the providing of house service connections. The rates charged by contractors executing the work on behalf of the municipality are not uniform, they said.
For instance, a pensioner on State Bank of India Colony was shocked to note that he was asked to pay over Rs. 11,000 to get the connection. After making an appeal to the municipality, he was in for another shock when he was asked to pay more than Rs. 15,000 as costs for purchase of construction material and labour charges. R. Narasimhan (76) said that he had paid an initial deposit of Rs. 5,000 as early as 2001 when the project was first announced.
He had waited for years for the project to begin. Had he deposited the same in a bank, the money would have doubled. In his appeal to the Municipal Commissioner, he said that he had already undergone a bypass surgery and requested that senior citizens like him should not be made to run from pillar to post.
The application procedure is cumbersome and time consuming and as most houses are in the names of senior citizens, they are being put to great strain to get the house service connections, residents say. Their demand is that the procedure should be completed at a single window counter with adequate receipts. According to some residents of Kumaran Kundram, they did not receive the memo indicating the charges they had to remit in the due format and that had been distributed by people not connected with the municipality.
Officials said they had recently conducted a grievance meeting where residents aired their problems with regards to the provision of house service connections.
The administration and the elected representatives would be looking into them to ensure that assessees did not pay anything more than the prescribed amount and the procedures too would be simplified too, said D.Jaiprakash, Municipal Vice Chairman.
Keywords: Pallavaram municipality