Photos from Cyclone Vardha in Chennai South


Most roads including arterial Arcot Road seen here near Palmgrove were cut-off due to fallen trees during the crosssing of Cyclone Vardha


Entrance to Josier Street, Nungambakkam blocked by a fallen tree


Fallen trees on Arcot Road


Vehicles had to use one half of the road outside Palmgrove Hotel. Remarkably Uber, Ola and Utoo operated services in the peak of the storm


A fallen barrier of the Chennai Metro Rail, at LIC station point


Chennai Metro barriers on Anna Salai, outside LIC


What you see from a car window at noon, Anna Salai outside Buharis, with fallen tree blocking North-bound half

Impact of Cyclone Varadha

At Tarapore Towers corner, a blurred view of a deserted Anna Salai.


Bent but not broken in Chennai

This scene on a busy Chennai road is a powerful visual of what the streets of the city are today, for people who have fallen afoul of the consumptive economy. As one of the most densely populated cities in India today, Tamil Nadu’s capital is witnessing a fast deterioration in the quality of life. Real public investment has been shrinking and virtually disappeared after last year’s state elections brought the AIADMK to power. The city has a significant slum population, scorching speculation in property, withdrawal of the government from welfare sectors (in spite of high profile announcements to the contrary), and sheer lack of public circulating space.

No city for old women

Chennai is at the bottom of the list of Indian cities when it comes to pedestrian facilities. Ask this woman on Station View Road, Kodambakkam, which is hostile to walkers.

An old, bent woman making her way along one of the crowded roads in Kodambakkam may be unremarkable to those who have lost touch with the reality that most citizens encounter. This arthritic older adult is almost at the centre of the road, moving ahead painfully with the help of a stick. This is Station View Road. The space at right is actually illusory for walkers, because it is created by a commercial establishment for its own purposes, is not continuous, and pushes a walking person to the centre at several points closer to the suburban railway station.

I remember the spaces available to old people about the age of this woman on the streets of Barcelona when I visited that magnificent city in 2010. Retirees were enjoying themselves, walking along nicely demarcated and smooth footpaths, in groups, chatting. It was a picture of contentment, afforded in part by civic order. What a contrast!

Until Chennai is brought to its senses, and forced to identify clear walking spaces along the margins of its roads, it will remain at the bottom of civilised practice, as this recent news report on walkability in India in the Times of India points out.

EXCLUSIVE : Ramky Enviro must set up toll-free garbage complaints line in Chennai

Setting up a grievance redressal-cum-monitoring cell to receive complaints relating to garbage is among the conditions  in the legal agreement signed by the Corporation of Chennai and Ramky Enviro Engineers for collection, segregation, transportation and disposal of municipal waste in new zones IX, X and XIII.

Although such a condition was included in the agreement with Neel Metal Fanalca earlier, it was not operationalised by the Corporation.

In the case of Ramky Enviro, the company is required to operate a toll-free telephone line for addressing citizens’ grievances.  The full copy of the agreement obtained by this blog under the Right to Information Act stipulates that the Concessionaire must meet other conditions also to arrive at the “Gross Admissible Payment”.

Other key aspects of the CoC – Ramky Enviro agreement are:

The handling of garbage will be monitored with a “visual aspect” involving photography of specific sites and some randomly chosen sites.

Ramky Enviro must follow the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000

The Concessionaire must use compactor vehicles, and tricycles for doorstep collection of waste duly segregated.

CoC will form dedicated teams of officials comprising Executive Engineers of the zones for the area covered, who will be headed by the Zonal Officer – designated as Project Officer to implement the Agreement provisions.

The scope of work requires Ramky Enviro to perform door-to-door collection of segregated MSW, including but not limited to residential houses, flats/apartments, group houses, commercial complexes, slums/slum tenements, institutions, places of worship, slaughter houses, makets, office complexes and beach service roads and any other roads specifically directed by CoC.

Collection and transportation of segregated bio-degradable and non-biodegradable wastes without mixing, to transfer stations or directly for disposal to designated dumping grounds.

Road/street sweeping with brooms, brushes and collection, removal, transportation ad disposal of road dust and transportation of silt deposited during de-silting of storm water drains as per the specific written request by the Project Officer, but shall not include collection, removal, transportation and disposal of debris, construction and demolition debris and mud earth.

Removal of dead animals and cow dung

Performance of services in the proposed zones conforming to the provisions of MSW Rules 2000 as amended from time to time.

“Segregation” is defined in the Agreement as having the meaning ascribed under the MSW Rules 2000, i.e., to separate the MSW into groups of organic, inorganic, recyclables, and hazardous wastes and includes segregation of MSW by the waste collectors engaged by the concessionaire from households while receiving MSW from the households.

Period of Concession to Ramky Enviro Engineers

The Agreement states that the concession is granted for a period of seven years commencing from the CoD (Commencement Operations Date) and ending on the Expiry Date. In the event of termination,the concession period shall mean and be limited to the period commencing from the CoD and ending with the termination date.

Gross Admissible Payment (GAP)

The Gross Admissible Payment is arrived at in three parts as described below:

Part I – Quantitative Payment: It comprises of first 50 per cent of the Gross payment to the concessionaire. It is arrived by assessing the total weight of the MSW disposed of in the landfill site after meeting alll the agreement conditions. The tipping fee will be multiplied by the TPD and 50 per cent of it is the Gross Admissible Payment, Part I.

The remaining two parts are for the 50 per cent remaining payment. It is based on the weightage obtained through Qualitative Assessment. It is arrived in 2 parts (Part II and Part III) 25 per cent each.

Part II – (25 per cent) – Visual Qualitative Assessment : The 25 per cent bill amount will be worked out based the weightage obtained by the Concessionaire in the monthly abstract format for the qualitative performance of the concessionaire for visual aspects of work.It is assessed through the photographs captured in designated locations as mentioned in the article number 8.3.1 of the concession agreement. Annexure II contains daily calculation format of Annexure IV contains monthly weightage deduction format for Part II (25 per cent) payment.

Part III  (25 per cent) – Last and remaining 25 per cent bill amount will be worked out based on the weightage obtained by the Concessionaire in the monthly abstract foormat for the quality of deployment. This part is based on the evaluation of the vehicle march out, response to public complaints and MSW transport in haulage vehicles etc as shown in the illustration in Annexure VI.

Grievance Redressal cell-cum-Monitoring Centre

The centre with a toll free telephone line will be manned from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and should be automated to record grievances at all other times.

Any grievance so received between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. shall be treated as the complaint received on that day and shall be rectified by the concessionaire wiithin 6 Project Design Specification (PDS) approved hours of the receipt of such grievances at the grievance cell. Any grievance no redressed within 6 hours on receipt of the same will be subjected to qualitative performance evaluation.

There shall be levied no penalty for non-redressal of complaints within 6 hours for the initiative calendar month of the concession period if the concerned Project Officer is of the opinion that it is necessary during the transition /takover period of concession work.

Such grievance cell shall be monitored by the Project Officer or any other officer authorized by him in this behalf vide Annexure III-A

It shall be the responsibility of the Concessionaire to prove each and every complaint is recorded and remedied. The decision of the CoC on the point that whether a complaint is redressed or not is final and binding on the Concessionaire.

In case if the Concessionaire claim that a particular complaint received in the complaint cell could not be redressed at all or till a particular period, the decision of the Project Officer is final and binding as to the nature of the complaint that it could be redressed or could not be redressed.

Performance Evaluation

The Qualitative Performance evaluation of work will be done on a daily basis and abstract of the monthly performance evaluation of Concessionaire for qualitative evaluation will be arrived at in Annexure IV and V.

The qualitative evaluation of work will be carried out in two aspects. First, is evaluation on visual aspects and the second is based on vehicle deployment, manpower deployment, materials deployment,and other aspects.


There will be penalties or fines for the default or deficiency of serviceby the Concessionaire for various types of deficiencies broadly classified as major and minor penalties. The penalties are specified on the percentage of monthly gross bill amount admitted for making payment to the Concessionaire.

Major penalty

Failure to redress a complaint for more than 48 hours-upto 10 complaints 0.5 per cent
above 10 complaints 1 per cent
In case vehicle is found carrying debris / silt-2 per cent
Complete failure to collect and transport waste/day-1 per cent
Failure to provide uniform to workers, drivers, cleaners- 0.5 per cent
Failure to provide safety gear to staff, employees-0.5 per cent
Failure to register public complaints-0.5 per cent
Not maintaining transfer stations, workshops
labour rest rooms- 0.5 per cent

The penalty levy will be fixed every day by the Project Officer of the concerned zones for minor as well as major and will be restricted to 10 per cent put together and monthly abstract will be prepared for levy of penalty for major and minor will be restricted to 10 per cent.

State of Chennai food safety


This scene at the junction of Kodambakkam High Road and Jagannathan Road shows the concern of the Tamil Nadu Government towards public health, and even common sense.
A row of footpath vendors serve lower cost meals to patrons from what are commonly known as ‘kaiyendhi bhavans’ – cart stalls that are stand-and-eat joints.
The less affluent patrons had to pick their way arounds mounds of wet, black sewer muck today.
This is the way the government led by a ‘strong rule of law’ party, the AIADMK, advances public health!

New life for discarded CDs, plastic containers

I am always looking for ways in which discarded CDs headed for the waste bin can be reused. Recently, an old CD and another item of plastic waste,  a medicine container, came together nicely to become a pen stand.

It will stay steady even if it gets heavy.

Here’s what the result looks like.

The only material used was rubber adhesive compound available in most stationery stores.

This may not be a terrific invention, but I am keeping two items out of the bin. In the process, I also discovered that CDs can be used as a stabilising base for anything that tends to topple over.

If you have any ideas about CD reuse, I would love to hear them.

M.K. Stalin’s website attracts civic petitions

When it comes to government departments, getting petitions accepted over email is still not a practical option. Although your emailed petition flies off the computer and lands in the inbox of an IAS officer or his departmental officers almost instantly, it might as well have been sent into a black hole. Invariably, nothing further will be heard about it (unless someone has included some dire statements within that attract police attention).

Yet, there are many citizens who are hopeful that elected representatives and government servants will take their emails seriously, fulfilling the promises made when considerable amounts of taxpayers’ money were spent to buy laptop computers, Blackberry phones and so on in large numbers.

Deputy Chief Minister M.K.Stalin has a website that receives complaints, and there are several of them on the site.

One of them, reproduced below, indicates the neglect of some fast-growing suburbs such as Mangadu, where the local town panchayat has been found lax and wanting in administrative capacity, resolve, responsiveness to citizens’ complaints and transparency. There are several complaints against this Mangadu Town Panchayat, that appear regularly in other media and on the Internet.



Dear honourable minister sir, we whole heartedly appreciate your dedication in local administration of our state. But our mangadu town panchayat needs your special attention. The president of the mangadu town panchayat is a nice person. The subject is about repairing the road leading to mangadu police station-thiru murugan salai -the road is in a very bad condition. There are many big pits and falls- the president thiru srinivasan when complained about it said that the town panchayat was sanctioned rs 4.00 crores for laying cement road.nothing has happened so far. The condition is becoming bad to worse, it is very difficult to ride two wheelers and cars in that road.this has been the condition for the last one year. We humbly request you to bestow your personal attention to bring back the road into good condition.thanks for ananda vikatan which published your website and also proudly informed the readers that the minister goes to sleep after only replying all the complaints. Thank you sir , m.s.subramanian no.1,sakthi nagar annexe,mangadu

Posted by SUBRAMANIAN M.S  on August 15, 2008, 11:19 pm