Loksatta demands compensation of 1 lakh for a family and property tax amount be returned to Flood victims
Sunday, November 22nd, 2015 @ 7:31PM
Loksatta party demands compensation of Rs 1 Lakh per family for middle class and Rs 20,000 per family for Urban poor per family for the victims of recent floods. The party demands that the property tax collected in the last 5 years should be returned to the people as a penalty for the government not fulfilling its duty.
Loksatta Party organized a Press Meet today based on the observations in the visits to flood affected areas and findings from speaking with the victims.
The incessant rains which had caused the floods is neither unusual and cannot be called as a natural calamity. This was forecasted by the meteorological center in advance and Chennai had experienced such rains already, the last one in 2005 when the same ADMK Govt was ruling the State.
Chennai Corporation had spent close to Rs 5000 crores in the past 5 years to build storm water drains and Mayor of Chennai had claimed that about 93% of the projects are implemented. However on inspecting the actual implementation it is obvious that these projects are nothing but money poured down the drain.
We observed that in areas around Velachery which are predominantly upper middle class localities and in Individual houses in Madipakkam, the victims had lost their lifelong savings. Also the very livelihood of the Urban poor in most parts of Chennai was affected due to the floods.
Below are the reasons for the heavy damages in certain areas:
- The storm water drain project implementation in these areas is only partially completed.
- Even in places where storm water drains were present, they were not properly linked to any water bodies like Pond or Lake. These drains stood in isolation from other water bodies and only served rain water storage bodies.
- The rule that roads should be milled before relaying has been violated. Old roads were not properly removed (milled) before the new one is laid. This has led to a situation where houses built before 15 years are 3 to 4 feet below the road level and houses built before 10 years are 2 to 3 feet below the road level.
- Desilting was not done regularly in water bodies and this has significantly reduced the capacity of the reservoirs.
Lack of transparency in Table resolutions
There is a lack of transparency in the resolution adopted in Chennai Corporation. For instance table resolutions were passed in the last session of corporation. Of them there were 59 important resolutions which were passed and only a summary of the resolution rather than the details were given to the media.
This is suspicious provided the contracts for constructing storm water drains in Cooum, Adyar river reservoir areas were allocated through these resolutions without any details of the tenders. Also to lay 1951 concrete roads contracts worth Rs 159 crores were allotted without any tender details. This shows that the Corporation is hand in glove with the corrupt contractors and vice-versa.
Loksatta Party is of the opinion that this lack of transparency in allotting important tenders through table resolutions plays a significant role in maximising the extent of damages in the recent floods. Loksatta party demands that the tenders allotted through table resolutions in a non-transparent manner should be cancelled.
Failure of precautionary measures
The Tamil Nadu government and Chennai Corporation have ignored the forecast warnings on heavy rains. When water from Chembarampakkam and Poondi reservoirs was released, it was not properly communicated to the people especially to those living in river banks. This is the reason for the causalities on the banks of Adyar River. 18,000 cu. feet of water was released from Chembarambakkam reservoir only at the last moment when it was about to get filled. This shows the failure in the government’s planning and communication.
Lack of Inter-departmental coordination
There are various departments involved like PWD, Highways, CMDA, MAWS, Chennai Corporation etc. in handling the precautionary measures and relief works and they are disconnected in terms of functioning and there is no proper interdepartmental coordination among them. More power devolution to local bodies (decentralization) and better coordination among the various departments is the solution. However the current administration lacks proper planning and hesitant to devolve powers to the local bodies.
Encroachments of water bodies
Lakes being encroached and unrestrained real estates over water bodies are major reasons for the floods. This encroachments lead to a situation where we have floods during rainy season and water scarcity during summer. Pallikaranai marshlands, Maduravoyal lake and other water bodies were encroached and this could not be controlled because of the lack of political will of the Dravidian parties. It is high time that the encroachments are controlled and existing ones are removed. When there are measures taken to displace them, the Govt doesn’t care about quality Eduaction, Healthcare and proper livelihood for these people.
Failure in disaster management
The CAG audit report published in March 2012 warned that Tamil Nadu is under-prepared with regards to disaster management. The report also has pointed out there were no meetings organized for disaster management and even funds allocated for disaster management preparation were underutilized. Even after such warnings the Tamil Nadu government was complacent in the preparation for disaster management. We highly doubt if the Cm of this state is aware that she is the Chairperson of the State Disaster Management Authority.
Loksatta demands – Compensation
The middle class in the flood affected areas have lost their properties ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 Lakhs. Especially Furniture including Sofas, TVs, Refrigerators, Laptops, Computers etc. have been damaged depending upon the water level and the number of days water has logged inside their houses. Though the automobiles were damaged they are covered under vehicle insurance. Most of the Urban poor living in the flood affected areas have lost their houses. Those in the relief camps have lost their dresses, utensils and are clueless about their subsistence. They have suffered an average loss of around Rs 20,000.
Loksatta Party advocates Right to Services where a citizen is entitled to the public services provided by the government. It is the duty of the government to build the infrastructure to protect and serve its people. This is not a natural calamity and the damages could have been easily averted with proper planning by the government as it is done in developed countries. The ADMK government is solely responsible for the damages as they have failed in its duty of creating infrastructure to handle the flood situation. The party condemns the government for not taking any steps to ascertain the damage to private properties.
The usual compensation of a few thousand rupees only serves as tokenism and Loksatta Party rejects the same. The party demands compensation Rs 1 Lakh per family for middle class and Rs 20,000 per family for Urban poor per family commensurate of the losses. This compensation is not based on compassionate grounds but as a compensation for the failure of the government in its responsibility.
Property tax should be returned
Honest citizens have paid their property tax only in the belief that the government will make use of the tax money in a proper manner and will provide them the required civic amenities. However 75% of the total 200 wards in Chennai have been affected by the rain which is due to the failure of the Chennai Corporation and Tamil Nadu government. Loksatta party demands that the property tax collected in the last 5 years should be returned to the people as a penalty for not fulfilling its duty.
Loksatta Party demands that the government should take action on the above mentioned steps to prevent such mishaps in the future.
Categories: Press Releases