Standing up to the Might of Commercial Complexes

T Nagar Resident Welfare Association uses RTI Act and PIL as tools to address civic grievances in their locality.

Published: 10th May 2016 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th May 2016 05:00 AM   |  A+A-

Standing

CHENNAI: The secretary of the T Nagar Resident Welfare Association (TNRWA) is more than happy to talk about his association and what it does that different from its peers in Chennai. “We walk the talk when it comes to issues surrounding our neighbourhood,” says Kannan.

As clichéd as it sounds, Kannan is not exaggerating. The T Nagar association, which covers every residence with the pincode 600017, has raised its banner on several instances to promote the welfare of its residents. That it has managed to do so, in the face of continuing threats from commercial outlets, deserves praise. The association count on Right to Information (RTI) petitions and recourse to court as vital tools in their endeavours. In 2014, Kannan filed a PIL against the lack of fire safety norms in nearby commercial outlets. “Two years on, the case is still pending. But we hope the court issues clear directions in that regard,” he says.

Another instance when the association stood up to the irregularities of these large shops, was when a popular store dug up a borewell without any authorisation and diverted the water for its benefit. “We immediately took up the issue and the Corporation levied a fine of `6 lakh on that store,” says Kannan.

When in December last year, residents of T Nagar struggled to stay above the water, the association took up the issue with the Metro Water officials. Some of its members asked one of their engineers about the direction of the storm water flow and the official reportedly said he didn’t know. “Imagine an engineer who says he doesn’t know the layout of storm water drains. We want the storm water drain network in the area to be cleared so that the incident is never repeated.”

Recently, the welfare association hogged the limelight after news emerged that its members would vote en-masse for ‘NOTA’ during the upcoming Assembly polls. “It is ironic that we as residents who have voted for them aren’t served but instead the interests of the owners of commercial complexes who aren’t even in the local electoral roll are taken care of.”

Registered under the Societies Registration Act in 2011, TNRWA has its origins in the Motilal Street Residents’ Welfare Association which was successful in maintaining the street’s outlook. The same year saw a candidate put up by TNRWA in the civic elections for post of councillor (in ward 136) securing a credible third position at local body elections.

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