Monday, Jan 20, 2003
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When repeated petitions to their local body - Pallavaram Municipality and other government agencies failed to deliver the basic amenities, residents of Keelkattalai decided to petition the Cell, only to get a long list of the basic facilities that had been "executed" in their locality, much to their surprise.
Surprising it was, for when the taxpayers went around their locality in search of the elusive "27 Sodium Vapour Lamps" and the "120 tube lights", which the letter said had been installed, they were able to spot less than 50 tubelights and only a couple of sodium vapour lamps. Two years later, the streets of Ward No.15 of Pallavaram Municipality continue to remain dark.
Residents of Keelkattalai have made Parry Colony, Boopathy, Rajendran, Durairaj and Kumaran Nagars among others their homes since the early 1960s due to its fairly close proximity to the city and the rest of the suburbs and in the hope that sooner or later, the facilities would be made available to them. But through the three decades, this remote ward has gained very little, while many facilities have come the way of even Village Panchayats like Kovilambakkam and Madipakkam, adjacent to their locality.
The residents continued to remain deprived of basic amenities - protected drinking water, well illuminated streets. While they managed to make good with well water from their houses and did not mind walking through furrowed roads and knee-deep water when they were inundated during monsoon, the most pressing problem was lack of streetlights.
K.S.Krishnaswamy, a long-time resident and an office-bearer of the Keelkattalai (East) Residents' Welfare Association, said as their locality was a snake-infested one, children and the elderly faced maximum risk while walking through the streets. Encounters with venomous snakes were not rare, he pointed out.
Realising they were fighting a losing battle against the local body for provision of street lights, the residents took the initiative and after mobilising funds, purchased tube lights and had them installed at important places, even as they continued to exert pressure on the Municipality for provision of additional lights. It was at this juncture, in February 1999 that the association sent a petition to the Grievance Cell of the State Legislative Assembly drawing its attention to their plight.
The Cell took its time and replied to the association in May 2001 with a list of various "welfare schemes" that had been implemented there. The list includes a break-up of the number of tubelights and sodium vapour lamps in each of the colonies. "How can the Pallavaram Municipality claim they have installed 120 tubelights while there are only 57 lamp posts"? questioned a resident. "There are not more than 5 sodium lamps and they claim to have installed 27", yet another pointed out.
The Councillor of Ward No.15, Malliga, complained that she was given a raw deal, as she belonged to the opposition DMK. "Among the 42 wards, mine is the only one where there is no proper water supply", Ms.Malliga pointed out.
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