As part of its efforts to expose a scam by the Chennai Corporation that affects the common man every day, NGO Arappor Iyakkam has released a song. Set to the tune of 'Aatama Paatama' from the 1991 movie Nadigan, the song features the state of the roads and bus routes across the city.
The song questions the state of the roads in the city. It goes (translated):
"What is this road? Who has laid it? Get lost
It is full of bumps and potholes, is the correct?
We asked you to give us tar roads
But you have given us terrible ones
These are roads on which people's taxes have been spent"
The singer questions the state of roads in the city as visuals of potholes and mud paths from Ramapuram, Anna Nagar, Chitlapakkam, Nungambakkam and several other areas flash across the screen. The song reminds the viewer that it is the common man's taxes that have gone into the maintenance, or rather the lack of it. It further focuses on corruption in RTOs that grants licenses to those not trained to drive vehicles, and terms this as amongst the causes for the increasing number of accidents in the state.
Arappor Iyakkam released this song in an effort to gather public interest in its latest set of exposes on corruption in road contracts in the city. They recently released that they had procured through RTI, and alleged a scam in the laying of Devanathan Street in Mandaveli.
The Chennai Corporation had reportedly allocated Rs 345 crore for the re-laying of roads along the bus routes that were frequented the most in 2015. The task of re-laying Devanathan Street was given to a contractor named J Santhanam, according to the Corporationâ€™s website. RTIs filed by the NGO show that the work was completed on 30 May 2016 at the cost of Rs 36,97,776.
In a monthâ€™s time, however, the road was closed to the public and patchwork costing Rs 2,00,092 was reportedly carried out. The contract for this was given to another company called MPK Enterprises. The height of the road was increased and according to the RTI, no quality check was conducted.
Despite all this expenditure, Devanathan Street remains in bad shape.
According to the Times of India, a bus stop had been left dug up for more than a month on the route, making it unsafe for both motorists and pedestrians.
"We are bringing our next expose within 15-20 days. We will now reveal the nexus between the corporation officials, politicians and contractors. This song was made to ensure we peek public interest in the matter," says the NGO's convenor A Jayaraman. "Following the first expose, we have written to the local body ombudsman. But now we want more citizens to come together, identify bad roads and ask the corporation questions," he adds.