In response to the Chief Minister’s statement, Arappor Iyakkam convenor Jayaram Venkatesan told TNM that the idea of an inquiry commission is not welcome.

M K Stalin
news Chennai Rains Tuesday, November 09, 2021 - 19:38

As Chennai reels under incessant rains and flooding, the Smart City project in the city has come into focus. T Nagar, one of the areas in the city where work under the Smart City Mission is being carried out, is one of the worst affected. On Tuesday, November 9, speaking to reporters, Chief Minister MK Stalin alleged that in the name of implementing the Smart City project, several crores were received from the Union government.

“We don't know what they did with it. Only after this is over, a Commission of Inquiry will be constituted and what happened during the time of Velumani [former Municipal Administration Minister]. No work was done. They have received commissions for the project as well. It is clear. But, still we are managing and going ahead with our work,” he said. The Chief Minister said action would definitely be taken against the contractors.

The Chief Minister’s allegations come at the time questions have been raised about the flooding in T Nagar, which was designated for area-based development. According to the New Indian Express, the Chennai corporation had spent over Rs 100 crore to construct stormwater drains between 2019 and 2021. The arterial GN Chetty road, which also comes under the area-based revamping of T Nagar under the Smart City Mission, has been severely waterlogged.

Similarly, the plan to revamp the Mambalam canal as part of the area-based development of T Nagar under the Smart City project has also reportedly been in vain, as the TNIE report added that staff of the Chennai Corporation had to remove bunds which had been constructed so that water could drain.

The Chief Minister’s allegation comes just one day after the Madras High Court asked the Department of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption to complete within ten weeks its investigation in a corruption case into former state Municipal Administration Minister SP Velumani. The case pertains to alleged irregularities in the awarding of tenders by the Chennai and Coimbatore corporations during his tenure. The FIR had been registered based on a complaint by NGO Arappor Iyakkam and DMK MP RS Bharathi.

In response to the Chief Minister’s statement, Arappor Iyakkam convenor Jayaram Venkatesan told TNM that the idea of an inquiry commission is not welcome.

“I think it is not a good idea to have inquiry commissions anymore because we are seeing over the last few years that inquiry commissions are of absolutely no use. Retired judges take years to inquire and then it gets buried,” he said. “Given there are serious charges of maladministration and corruption, there should be a straight registration of FIR and then action should be taken against the officials and the former minister by the DVAC. That is the only way, I think, we can ensure some form of justice. Inquiry commission is something that is not welcome,” he added.

With respect to the Smart City mission and the stormwater drains that have been constructed, Jayaram said they have filed another complaint with regard to corruption in stormwater drains based on which FIR is yet to be filed by the DVAC. Many stormwater drains were constructed using smart city funds, he said.

Allegations regarding the previous maladministration in projects is not new. The district development coordination and monitoring committee (DISHA), which is to oversee the implementation of central schemes, at its last meeting also reportedly questioned why the impact of the work done under the Smart City mission was not seen.

Read: SP Velumani linked companies saw meteoric rise: What FIR against AIADMK leader says