RTI Act brings water, can it take water out in Chennai?

According to a news report, residents of Pallavaram could get their water connections after they decided to wield the Right to Information Act against some obviously corrupt municipality officials.

This is a familiar story now, and speaks of the power of the middle class when it is aware and decided to adopt legal means, rather than cough up bribes.

But for thousands of residents in the inundated colonies around Chennai, the issue is to get the rain water out of their houses and compounds, streets and surroundings. Can the RTI Act help achieve that objective?

Colonies like Jeeva Nagar in Kattupakkam, coming under the Mangadu Panchayat have been marooned in the recent intense rains and have turned into cesspools as neighbours pump out their sewage into the walled layout. Due to a stroke of bad luck, this area was earlier a brick kiln, so the top soil has been excavated severely. The result is the creation of a low-lying area that turns into a lake with every rain spell.

Water being pumped from neighbouring areas into Jeeva Nagar, Kattupakkam, Mangadu Panchayat in Chennai, Dec 4,08

Water being pumped from neighbouring areas into Jeeva Nagar, Kattupakkam, Mangadu Panchayat in Chennai, Dec 4,08

The Kancheepuram District Collector was sent several mails by the residents, but he has not responded.

The Hindu makes the point today in one news report that the recent Northeast monsoon rains have exposed one thing: there is nothing special about a CMDA approved layout, compared to unauthorised ones. In fact, politicians are more concerned about the hundreds of people who have built houses in public land, and on lake beds (and that is no fault of the residents in these places as they have had no access to affordable housing. The bottomline is that there is nothing to be gained by paying taxes for authorised layouts.

Layout or lake? On Dec 4, 2008, Jeeva Nagar, Kattupakkam, is fast filling up with sewage, adding to stagnant rainwater.

Layout or lake? On Dec 4, 2008, Jeeva Nagar, Kattupakkam, is fast filling up with sewage, adding to stagnant rainwater.

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