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T NAGAR will be Chennai's test site for smart city plan

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The recent deluge may have battered the city’s commercial capital — T Nagar — but on a happier note, the corporation has finalised it for the Centre’s smart city project.
Beating Sholinganallur, Mylapore and George Town, other shortlisted areas for the project, the move is expected to develop the congested T Nagar into a pedestrian-friendly shopping area, with a safe and continuous network of footpaths and cycle tracks.

While the deadline to present the ‘Smart City Challenge Mission Proposal’ as a prerequisite to find a place in the final list of 20 cities across the country expired on Tuesday, Tamil Nadu got an extension till December 28 because of the floods.

The civic body is also expected to come up with a parking management system to reduce illegal parking of vehicles. “We will install bollards to prevent illegal parking on busy streets and we are also considering a multi-level parking facility to accommodate vehicles,” said a corporation official.

Experts say the smart city project will change the face of T Nag ar, which was once a residential neighbourhood.

Advait Jani, Chennai programme coordinator, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), said the project will help get the basics right.

“The augmentation of existing infrastructure is also key for its success.

It is a long-term project, which can be extended to other parts of the city.” Many shoppers in T Nagar welcomed the proposal. “We have been waiting for this project as T Nagar has become increasingly congested. Sometimes, there is no space for people to walk,” said K Sathish, a regular visitor of Pondy Bazaar.

The website, mygov.in, where citizens could register their proposals, received more than 1,800 suggestions. A majority of them (25%) voted for motorised transport, followed by intelligent traffic management (23%) and waste reduction and recycling at 21%.

To make it to the first list of 20 cities, which will be released next year, a city has to formulate a ‘Smart City Challenge Mission Proposal’. If selected, each city can carry out development work worth `1,000 crore over five years. Of this, `500 crore will be provided by the Union government, while the state government will contribute `250 crore. The city corporation will have to generate the remaining `250 crore through external funding during the five-year period.

Meanwhile, newly added neighbourhoods such as Ambattur, Tiruvottiyur, Alandur and Madhavaram have been identified for the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation scheme. These areas will get funds to improve infrastructure for water supply, sewerage, storm water drains, transport and development of green spaces and parks with special provision for meeting the needs of children.

Sholinganallur leads at 57% but lost

T Nagar may have been chosen as the corporation’s entry for the Centre’s Smart City project, but Sholinganallur garnered the highest number of votes according to the data available on mygov.in. While 57% of residents voted for Sholinganallur, T Nagar could bring in only 33% votes, followed by George Town (5%) and Mylapore (4%). According to the Centre’s guidelines for the Smart City project, areas should be selected based on public participation. “Many people voted for T Nagar via ballot boxes in zonal offices and also through corporation’s website,” said a senior official. TNN

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Source: TOI-Che

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Flood-hit people from suburbs want tax waived

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CHENNAI: Residents of the suburbs have urged the state government to waive the underground drainage and property tax for the period October 2015 to March 2016.

V Santhanam, the president of the federation of civic and welfare associations of Pallavaram, said the residents have been monetarily affected as most of the areas were flood hit and badly damaged.

He said the waiver would bring some relief to them after their harrowing experience. “Residents have spent thousands of rupees in rebuilding their homes. As the underground drainage system has taken a beating, even the flood relief of 5,000 to be given by the state government is not enough. Students have lost their books and daily wage labourers have lost man hours due to the flooding,” Santhanam said.

The residents of Chrompet, Pallavaram, Zamin Pallavaram, Tambaram and Mudichur were amongst the worst affected as water had flooded their homes and destroyed property.

R S Shankar, a resident of Tambaram, said, “The Tamil Nadu government should be sympathetic to wards flood-hit people and waive the property tax until March 2016. This is the least the government can do as we have suffered enough. Paying the underground drainage charges and property tax now will be a huge burden on our finances as the children’s examinations are fast approaching and a major chunk of the family budget has gone towards their education.”

Most of the homes in Mudichur area were inundated after the floods wreaked havoc in the low lying areas, damaging homes, cars, generators and other electrical appliances. The residents of all these areas echoed the similar sentiment.

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Source: TOI-Che

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Prevent encroachment of rivers: HC

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CHENNAI: Clearing encroachments on waterbodies, desilting channels, stopping dumping of solid waste in drainage system and building a barricade along canals/rivers to prevent new encroachments – these are the Madras high court’s prescriptions to the Tamil Nadu government to avoid recurrence of the catastrophic floods that swamped Chennai and its suburbs recently.

Desilting the entire breadth of rivers and deepening them by removing all slush and filth, which had accumulated recently, should be urgently examined and the result of the steps taken should be incorporated in the counter-affidavit, the court said.

The first bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana, concurring with the views of Manuneedhi Consumer and Environmental Protection Centre president A Muniraja, who had filed a PIL, said on Wednesday: “Insofar the issue of barricading river boundaries to avoid further encroachments as well as preventing the dumping of garbage and solid wastes are concerned, we are of the view that this matter needs urgent attention. The authorities concerned are thus directed to ensure that there is no further encroachment or re-encroachment along waterways nor is dumping of garbage and solid wastes permitted.”

The bench appreciated the petitioner’s suggestion for a survey of all waterbodies in Chennai by a team of experts, and directed the state government to study the proposal to form a committee of experts in water management and environmental concerns to survey the geography of rivers passing through Chennai, and make suggestions. “We direct the state government to examine this issue and incorporate this aspect in the counter-affidavit to be filed in the writ petition,” the judges said and hoped that it will have an expert opinion before them by the next date of hearing.

In his petition, Muniraja said authorities failed to take note of the havoc caused by flooding in 1918, 1943, 1978, 1985, 2002 and 2005, and did not implement the suggestions made by top engineers in their reports after those tragedies. Since 2005, a series of court orders too were being passed and none of them was implemented by authorities, he said.

Adyar, Cooum and Kosasthalayar had shrunk to one-third of their original size due to constructions and encroachments, the PIL said, adding that they should be restored to their original condition. Among other things, Muniraja wanted the court to direct authorities to barricade river boundaries to avoid further encroachments and dumping of solid waste.

He urged the court to form a committee of experts to make suggestions to study geography of waterbodies in Chennai region and to suggest ways for effective utilization of flood water that otherwise gets drained into the sea.

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Source: TOI-Che

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