Downtown

“Appoint a VAO just for Ullagaram”

A new resident of Ullagaram needed a community certificate for his school-going son and the process of getting it left him a tired and frustrated man.

It was difficult for him to meet the Village Administrative Officer (VAO) – because, the one for Ullagaram does not stay in Ullagaram.

On being told that office of the VAO was located near a matriculation school in Madipakkam, he went there only to find out that the official at that office was not the authority concerned for Ullagaram.

The office catered to Madipakkam I and he was asked to go to Kovilambakkam, where he finally found the one who is authorised to process his application – the VAO for Madipakkam II.

According to residents, this is not an isolated case. There have several instances of residents running from pillar to post to process such applications. They say the VAO for Madipakkam I, covers Puzhuthivakkam and Madipakkam and the one for Madipakkam II covers Kovilambakkam and S. Kolathur.

In addition to these responsibilities, the Madipakkam II VAO looks after Ullagaram. It may be recalled that not long ago, Ullagaram and Moovarasampet had a separate VAO office near the Moovarasampet pond. Now, due to certain changes, residents of Ullagaram have to travel to the VAO’s office in Kovilambakkam.

“Of course, one can take buses from Medavakkam. But, getting down at Kovilamabakkam, he has to take an auto and go past the congested S. Kulathur Road,” says Perumal, a 65-year-old resident.

S. Ramasamy, social activist and member of the Union Carbide Colony Association as well as the Federation of Chennai Ullagaram Puzhuthivakkam Association, says, “We have travel over four to five km to get a birth or death certificate. Bus services from Ullagaram to Kovilambakkam on Medavakkam Main Road leaving much to be desired.”

A few residents allege that since the Kovilambakkam VAO holds an additional charge of Ullagaram, priority is given to Kovilambakkam residents and residents of Ullagaram have to make many visits to the office before their work gets done.

“Ullagaram is part of the Chennai Corporation and nearly 8,000 taxpayers live here. But Kovilambakkam belongs to a village panchayat. How can people of an area coming under city limits be asked to approach a village panchayat even for petty issues.”

He adds, “The area has a separate public health centre, government school, separate Corporation zonal office and Metrowater office. Steps are on to provide Metrowater connections to the area. Against this backdrop, it is quite pathetic that the area has no VAO of its own.”

A few association members, on conditions of anonymity, say several representations have been made to the officials concerned and shortage of staff was cited as the reason for not solving the problem.

S. Vasudevan, social activist, Social Workers Sangamam, says, “The main reason for the appointment of more officers and decentralisation of work is to distribute work and get it done on time. Giving an additional charge to the VAO causes delay in fulfilling their civic duties.”

J.K. Manikandan, councillor, ward 168, says that he has not yet received complaints from residents. “But if they approach me and the government is also willing to appoint a separate VAO for Ullagaram, I can make arrangements for providing a separate room for the VAO in the zonal office at my own expense.”

However, the Kovilambakkam VAO says that she is the government-appointed VAO for Madipakkam II, which includes Ullagaram too, and not holding an additional charge of Ullagaram.

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 10:47:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/exclusive-vao-needed-for-ullagaram/article7410985.ece

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