Apartments in Coimbatore to come together to air common issues

Flat owners in Coimbatore to take up their issues through a common platform.

Flat owners in Coimbatore to take up their issues through a common platform.   | Photo Credit: S_SIVA SARAVANAN

Besides engaging with govt. departments, they could also help one another in framing by-laws or sharing details of service providers

Sometime ago, an apartment near Thanneerpandal received a notice from the Tangedco asking it to cough up a certain sum that ran into lakhs. The Tangedco said the money, demanded as arrears, was to be paid for the power consumed by the in-house sewage treatment plant for the past couple of years.

In issuing the notice, the Tangedco had argued that the power consumed by the sewage treatment plant should be under commercial tariff, but the apartment had been paying domestic charges.

After wondering what to do, the apartment office-bearers approached consumer organisations and with their help had the demand quashed.

Another apartment in Rathinapuri too had received a similar notice and is fighting it out with the Tangedco.

Another apartment near Uppilipalayam received a notice from the Coimbatore Corporation saying that it should manage its waste. The Corporation had told the apartment that it was a bulk waste generator and therefore could not expect the civic body to collect its waste.

These are a few instances of apartments in Coimbatore having had a run-in with either government departments or face issues that are common to all apartments. This set the apartments thinking and has made them come together to establish a common platform.

K. Senthil Kumar of Manchester Sitara, the Thanneerpandal apartment, said what his apartment faced and a few others were also facing. Therefore, it only made sense for his apartment to initiate the move to establish a federation of apartment associations in Coimbatore.

It was not just to face such issues that a few apartments had come together. They also wanted to come together because establishing a common platform would help the apartments take up common causes and fight for their rights with the Coimbatore Corporation or other government departments, said R. Srinivasa of Jain Sri Venkateshwara apartment in Upplipalayam.

The apartments said the Corporation asking them to manage their waste, either by establishing an in-house facility or engaging a contractor, involved money. But the very same Corporation continued to collect waste from houses in layouts. This appeared to be a discrimination because the layouts had houses that were horizontally spread while the apartments had flats in a vertical arrangement.

That the Corporation was not collecting waste collection user fee from houses but forcing apartments to spend on waste management was what they called unfair and the reason for coming together.

When the Corporation made no distinction between houses and flats in levying property tax, why should it make a distinction in offering services, Mr. Kumar argued.

The discrimination also extended to water supply, said a civic administration expert.

The Corporation offered concession in water supply to houses while extending no such concession to apartments. Therefore, the apartments coming together would only be a natural consequence.

Consumer activist K. Karthirmathiyon said there were several such issues that the apartments could achieve by coming together. The first would be that they would start realising their collective power in extracting concessions from government departments or asking the civic body to extend a few facilities.

Assuming that there were at least 100 apartments in Coimbatore and each had at least 20 flats, 20,000 families with 60,000 to 70,000 members was a huge number that no department could ignore.

And, when it came to local bodies, the apartments, by coming together, could ask councillors to argue their case in the Council, something that had not happened so far.

A Corporation official said if the apartments were to come together to lobby for facilities or relaxation of rules, it would be good because he had hardly seen councillors take up apartments’ cause in Council meetings.

And being a sizeable vote bank, the councillors would ill afford to antagonise the apartments.

Mr. Kumar said the apartments were also looking beyond engaging with government departments. The apartments could also help one another in framing by-laws or sharing details of service providers like house keeping agencies or even in collective bargaining.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 1:11:55 PM |

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