B S Raghavan

Areas in TN that demand CM’s attention

B.S.RAGHAVAN | Updated on July 01, 2012

The people of Chennai were overjoyed when, recently, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Ms J. Jayalalithaa, administered a stern warning to the Chennai Corporation councillors for having exceeded all limits in indulging in corrupt practices and committing irregularities.

As per published reports, she even named councillors, including many women among them, and their specific acts of corruption and demands of other exactions. She said that she would dissolve the Corporation if she continued to receive complaints against them, and make sure that the dismissed councillors were barred from contesting election again.

I am told the warning has had a dramatic effect. Naturally. Everyone in Tamil Nadu and, indeed the whole country, knows that there is no trifling with Ms Jayalalithaa. Her iron resolve had been evident in a number of instances. It was solely because of her determined effort in revamping the Veeranam water project that Chennai had been saved from drinking water crisis.

Her dismissal overnight of more than two lakh State Government employees who had resorted to an irresponsible and unjustified strike has no parallel in the annals of administration anywhere in the world. It was greeted with ecstatic hallelujahs by all citizens who have long been the victims of pain and suffering at their hands.

In need of cleansing

I once heard a high US diplomat refer to her as the “iron lady” of India and the sharpest and brightest political leader he had seen in his entire career. That being so, she undoubtedly understands that the happiness of the people is often the result of little acts of good governance which, again, need be nothing more than the removal of the sources and causes of their harassment and oppression.

I wish to name a few areas in need of cleansing. If only she cracks the whip, she can set things right in those areas in a jiffy and save lakhs of people from hardship.

The most pernicious and atrocious of the lot and one that has also given a bad name to the State is the reign of terror let loose by autorickshaws. They have become a law unto themselves with no one in Government daring to control them, for fear, it is said, of offending the owners who are either high police officials or connected with political bigwigs.

EVER-LASTING SERVICE

I recently spent five days in Bangalore and went about in autorickshaws. The moment I sat in the vehicle, the driver put on the meter and at the end of the journey even returned the change.

The smooth and orderly manner in which rail passengers at Bangalore and rail terminals in other States are helped to find taxis and autorickshaws at regulated prices to reach home is something to be seen to be believed. But here in Tamil Nadu, it is total anarchy. Is it that as a people we are inferior to others?

The CM will do an ever-lasting service if the fleecing of the people by autorickshaws is put to a stop and the facility at railway stations works effectively.

Next is the stinking garbage. The Chennai Corporation has proved itself utterly unequal to the task of solid waste management. Residents of most localities are unable to put up with the heaps of uncleared garbage. Visitors from abroad and other States are going away with a lousy impression of Chennai. Further, any space is thought good enough for dumping garbage by Corporation’s minions. Furthermore, instead of clearing garbage, it is burnt in many places, posing a health hazard. Here again, a dressing down by the CM will instantly improve matters.

Third, government hospitals and health centres. Millions of the poor, taking their near and dear ones, in dire need of attention with compassion and spirit of service, encounter at many of these places inhumanity and cruelty that beggar description.

A public statement by the CM that she expects government doctors, nurses, orderlies and others to show kindness and stop demanding bribes will work wonders.

Finally, the general behaviour of officialdom. I have visited all States and some more than once. The officials of Tamil Nadu, especially the conductors of public transport and subordinate police, easily take the cake for being rough-and-gruff. It will certainly help if the CM makes them undergo repeated orientation courses to make them sweet-mannered and people-friendly.

Published on July 01, 2012

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