Singara Chennai

The DMK had declared a program for ‘Singara Chennai’ the last time they were in power in the state. Some work was done, but we didn’t make appreciable progress towards their goal of making Chennai like the city state. Having just returned from Singapore, the advances they have made in the last two years (I was there last in May 2004) is visible and appreciable.

There seems to be a consensus that Singapore must be the best city (much easier!) in this part of the world. So there is concerted effort by every department of the government to ensure this. Problems are surmounted with solutions, and by benchmarking with the best. Quality services are provided, and the citizens charged for it. The point is, if people are getting the best possible service, they are not likely to complain about paying for it.

Take water for instance. The quality of the water supplied in Singapore is very high, comparable to the best cities in the world. But they charge citizens accordingly-in fact the water tax is based on the number of water closets you have in a house as that is what consumes the most water! Consider: Metro Water’s charges are based on some antiquated calculations, and are so low that most of us don’t even know how much we’re paying! (Because you don’t even notice it as an expense). No wonder then that they’re not able to supply suitable water to the city, nor meet its growing demands. Instead we citizens are paying a fortune to various companies for branded water in plastic bubbles. I’d much rather pay a monthly water tax to get a dependable supply of good water to Metro Water.

The other thing I noticed about Singapore is that many of the people in positions of power and authority are Tamils, even in the much vaunted Singapore Airlines. Why can’t the local government rope in some of them as advisors on some of the key areas that could make a difference to Chennai? Such as water supply and roads (you have to experience the expressway system and how much it’s been improved and extended over the years). I am sure they would be more than willing.

What can we do to build the consensus that for Chennai to attract the best investments & talent to fuel the city’s growth and socio-economic development, we must benchmark our city’s standards against the best in the region? And there are quite a few: Singapore, Melbourne, Sydney….. With the growing awareness of Corporate Social Resposnsibilty, many companies would adopt streets, parks, entire streches of road or other public areas to maintain them if developed well. If only there was the political will, vision and aspirations amongst all of us, we could create a city that sets the standards for the rest of India.

2 Comments so far

  1. vatsan (unregistered) on June 25th, 2006 @ 10:23 pm

    david, apart from infrastructure and civic amenities in no other way would i want chennai to become like singapore.

    having lived in singapore, i am not too fond of it

  2. david (unregistered) on June 26th, 2006 @ 7:49 am

    yo vatsan! i completely agree. i did mean in terms of infrastructure and civic amenities. otherwise its sort of like a city without a soul!

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