Downtown

'Persistence pays off'

V. Santhanam   | Photo Credit: A_Muralitharan

In 1965, I bought a piece of land at Chromepet for Rs. 3,300. It was a huge amount for me at that time. Unfortunately, the land was acquired by the government for building a hospital.

While other buyers and even the layout promoter gave up the fight to save their lands, I decided to fight for my right. I wrote a petition to the then Chief Minister of the State appealing to him to exempt my land from acquisition. I did not get any response initially. I sent 14 reminders, all of them as registered posts. In 1967, I received a message from the Secretariat to meet the personal assistant of the then Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai.

After the meeting, the then Health Minister signed a remark that my land might be exempted. Also, the Chief Minister patted me on my shoulders and personally appreciated me for my untiring efforts. From then on, writing petitions have become my habit.

After constructing a small house, I moved to Chromepet in 1969. There were only two factories — ‘Chrome Leather’ and ‘Indra Cotton Mills’. Now, ‘Balaji Medical College’ stands in the place of Chrome Leather. There were no parks or playground for kids in those days. Several houses lacked power connection — for want of poles. We used only kerosene lamps. As there were no fans, the place swarmed with mosquitoes. Water was aplenty, but sour. Veera Raghavan Lake and Pallavaram Peria Eri used to touch the railway track and GST Road. Now, the lakes have shrunk in size due to encroachments.

My mother did not like the area as it was a riverbed and did not have basic amenities such as roads or lights. I assured her that I would be responsible for bringing in some changes in the area and make the place worthy to live. Then, I continued to write my petitions, especially to the Pallavapuram Municipality. Initially, there was no response or acknowledgement. Realising the futility of the petitions, I started writing grievance letters of public importance to various newspapers. Then, the officials started responding to my letters. The number of letters published in the newspapers would be more than 3,000.

Among what was achieved by this attitude are: planting of saplings across the area, opening of at least ten parks, government hospital and specialty hospitals, ensuring that the Venkatamangalam compost yard is close to completion, establishment of a gasifier crematorium, saving a few water bodies from further encroachment, scrapping the hike in land property tax and introduction of new bus routes.

President, Federation of Civic & Welfare Associations of Pallavaram

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 3:54:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/persistence-pays-off/article6710969.ece

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