Great expectations…..

Nary a day goes by without some upbeat announcement for the development of Chennai and the state it seems. In addition to the infrastructure build out of Rs 18,000 crore for the city, we are now informed that the Master Plan will actually see investments of Rs 45,000 crore. Given the sorry state of ethics in government departments (at least that is the general belief), you wonder where a large portion of that princely sum is going to land up besides the said infrastructure.

At the same time, there are pockets of excellence in government, so it may not all be that bad. And the IAS cadre in TN is one of the best in the country. I believe that it is these dedicated officers who have worked to make the state what it is, despite the internecine warfare between the two dominant political parties. Lets hope the main responsibility for transforming Chennai and the state rides on their capable shoulders! I, for one, will be rooting for them. Its also up to us as citizens to get involved in every opportunity we get to interface with the government and participate in the planning process for a better city. Unless the pressure for better standards and greater accountability builds from the people, we will have governments that compromise or delay in accomplishing projects. Take the expansion of the airport for example- its still not clear what they are going to do despite it being a development imperative for the city and the state. While both Bangalore and Hyderabad are making progress….

The other big announcement was the de-silting and cleaning up of the Cooum at a cost of Rs 400 crores with the World Bank’s assistance. If they can actually pull that off, the government’s credibility will be restored. But there’s many a slip between the cup and the lip, as the saying goes! The proof of the pudding will definitely be in the eating. One sees first hand the sad state of the Adyar most mornings when one rows on it; the debris, garbage, plastic bags, rubbish, sewage etc thrown unthinkingly into such a wonderful natural resource. Remember the Cooum is about twenty times worse than the Adyar…. The starting point would be to relocate all the people who have settled along the banks of these rivers and contribute to the pollution. While the government has stated their intention to relocate 40,000 families, there is very little progress so far.

The Railways Minister has finally bitten the bullet and declared that the work on the MRTS up to Velachery will be (finally!) over by May 15nth. If one recalls when work on this project began, and the time it’s taken, one can only be filled with despair. When are the other infrastructure projects going to be completed then? This is the huge difference between China and India as pointed out by many who are familiar with developments in both countries, including fellow Indians. The Chinese execute like crazy, while in India, its ‘doable when able’- even if it takes more than ten years. (Mind you, the MRTS is along the Buckingham Canal which actually made I a lot easier. Can you imagine the complexities involved in building the Chennai Metro along crowded arterial roads?)

Still, its really a shot in the arm when an organization like the CII brings in a resounding vote of confidence for the state as they did yesterday. The organization is planning to bring out a twenty year road map for the state for inclusive development. As it is the state is a preferred destination for investments and is rapidly emerging as a major centre for IT, BPO, automotive manufacturing and electronics and hardware manufacturing. The city is also witnessing the development of quasi-satellite towns along the Old Mahabalipuram Road, Maraimalainagar and Sriperumbudur. Imagine what the city could be like if its infrastructure could be developed benchmarked with the best standards in the world! If there’s any state in India that can do it, its Tamil Nadu. We just have to believe we can, and have the political will to carry it out. Lets hope for the best.

7 Comments so far

  1. Sachin (unregistered) on April 19th, 2007 @ 1:18 am

    I for one, am not confident that the infrastrucutre will be implemented at all. i think 12K crore and 48K crores are numbers that are being thrown around without any sound thinking… vote attraction at a new level i guess. Like you rightly said, if the MRTS is anything to go by, then we’ll see the new chennai airport in 10 years(Kolkata beat us to it!) and the new metro in 15.

    I still feel the biggest gift the govt can give chennai is an image makeover. If this city doesnt turn cosmopolitan in its outlook, it is certainly going to further lose out to its contemporaries bangalore and hyderabad in the long run. allowing unruly Auto drivers, dingy tasmac shops, price caps and restrictions on entertainment, banning jeans in college.. these are not laws and means of a metropolitan city.

  2. nandhu (unregistered) on April 19th, 2007 @ 2:41 am

    the Mass Rapid Transport System is actually being done in three phases. what is functioning now is the first phase and part of the second phase – that’s from Beach to Velachery. The second half of the second phase will see the MRTS trains go up till Taramani. those trains will start plying by May 15 if the Railway Safety Commission approves the constructions and the safety measures taken.

    but the here’s the bigger picture. by the end of phase III of the MRTS, trains will run right from the Beach up till St. Thomas Mount. They will run up to a speed of 75 km/hour, making them much faster, I expect, than the suburban trains.

    The MRTS was a disaster when introduced. Nobody used it. Now Mr Velu, the minister for railways, has claimed that at the end of phase III, 10 lakh passengers will use MRTS trains.

    anybody has statistics of passengers using MRTS? would be relevant here.

  3. Navaneethan Santhanam (unregistered) on April 19th, 2007 @ 4:57 am

    The 45K crores have been promised under the JNNURM, and one hopes that these will be utilised for the good of the city.

    What I find most irritating about GoTN is their inefficiency and inability to decide on whether to go for a greenfield airport in Oragadam/Sri Perumbudur or to expand Meenambakkam. I just with they’d do something about it, as both Bangalore & Hyderabad are getting greenfield airports in the near future.

    Another complaint against the Govt. is the ridiculous amount of time they are taking over Chennai Metro. Also alarming is the lack of information about it. I don’t see a website or anything, nor has it been mentioned on the CMDA website.

    With all the development in IT Parks, integrated townships and suchlike, it seems obvious to me that the private sector is doing a far better job in terms of actually getting something done! Even the IT Corridor on OMR seems to be taking forever.

    While I must say that the govt. has done a fairly good job about announcing schemes and envisioning a better Chennai, they seem somewhat inept at actually executing this.

  4. sj (unregistered) on April 19th, 2007 @ 10:06 am

    Sachin your comments about the city not being cosmopolitan are not accurate. The city is more cosmo than most other place look at Kolkata the majority of residents are Bengalis and you can get much done is any other language besides the local one. However the city is still developing and is considered metro. The last thing Chennai needs is more people from other parts of India coming here depleting resources. In terms of western culuture I think this is slowly killing of local culture with all these Peter and Marys all over the place real annoying.

  5. Planemad (unregistered) on April 19th, 2007 @ 4:11 pm

    If theres anything i hate, its the lack of informaton and follow up. None of the govt websites ever get updated or monitored for feed back.
    Im thinking of compling a list of email ids from govt websites and sending them complaints, each time i dont get response within 2 days (or gets bounced as usual), an email will be sent one step up in the heirarchy complaining about the lack of response. Who knows, i may finally reach the president.

  6. ag (unregistered) on April 19th, 2007 @ 8:10 pm

    agree with you planemad! it is hard to believe in today’s world, that the websites are either outdated or non-existent!it will be great if a youth-centric city website is launched with listing of college events, hangouts, and other stuff …! A one stop Chennai city portal , but much younger in look and content than say!

  7. sachin (unregistered) on April 20th, 2007 @ 1:56 am

    Im sure we are all ambitious for our city, and im sure that wanting a more broad base of cultures in a city has nothing to do with over crowding and depletion of resources necessarily. All you need is good city planning. Lets hope they do something on that account.

    Besides SJ, i cant beleive that in the 21st century a couple cannot be seen sharing affection in public, as long as they are not obscene. Grow up, Live and let live dude. If you go outside chennai, your peters and marys do far more daring things.

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