We pray the lord in every form to save Chennai !!! No more rains please !!!!!
A NEWS REPORT
The rain came, and Chennai responded by opening its doors. Over the last few days, as the streets got flooded and increasingly dangerous to navigate, our city responded with overwhelming generosity. Locals have been posting their addresses online, offering food and shelter to anyone who needs it. Theatres, malls and restaurants have thrown open their doors. Impromptu rescue teams have been formed to help those who are stranded. The gestures range from families cooking food all night so it can be distributed to the hungry, to thoughtful Chennaiites with Internet access offering to recharge phones with talk time for people with no balance or electricity.
City opens its doors
It’s early yet on Wednesday morning, but Dr. Sai Kishore from Paalavakkam is busy wading through water-logged streets, handing out packets of food to those in need. The medico who runs the K.L. Hospital in Neelankarai, threw open his hospital doors for those stranded in the rain. “As of last evening we had at least 10 families take shelter at the hospital. We went around picking up those stranded in the hospital ambulance. After a point though the ambulance could not ply on the water-logged streets. Now, my team and I are going around the area distributing packets of food that we cooked in the hospital mess to those in need,” he explains, adding, “The way the city has come together to help others in need is very encouraging. There is such a sense of unity at this time of crisis.”Help came from all corners as Sowmya Reddy put together a crowd-sourced Google doc encouraging people to open up their homes to those affected by the floods. With nearly 225 volunteers posting their contact details and offering to host people in their homes, the list has come as a boon for the city.
Naveen Kumar, an IT employee who lives in Kotturpuram, had people from the Mandaveli area seek refuge at his house. “I did the same last week and am more than willing to host people this time round too. The situation is pretty bad and it’s the one way I could extend help, so why not? I had two people come over last night and we provided them with food and shelter,” he says.
While Suresh Kumar, a volunteer from Medavakkam, didn’t receive any calls from people looking for shelter, he did receive calls from people wading through the flood waters and looking for some food. “A group of people got in touch with me through my listing. They had been walking from OMR to Kovilavakkam through water-logged streets and were looking for something to eat, before they could continue their walk home. I got food packed from a nearby restaurant and went and gave it to them. Anybody looking for shelter is most welcome to get in touch with me,” he says.
Help comes from New York
Krtgrphr, a New York-based Chennaiite spent 15 hours volunteering information on the Internet Kartik, who goes by @krtgrphr on Twitter, is managing many tabs on his laptop sitting in New York. On any other day, this would seem like a normal activity for someone who is online a lot, but Tuesday night and Wednesday morning were all about offering help to strangers stranded in Chennai due to the rain. Krtgrphr (who prefers to go by his Twitter handle) has been volunteering for 15 hours non-stop so far, and is still going strong. From contributing to the document on ‘#ChennaiRains Resource Center’ (chennairains.org) to just as simply spreading the word by retweeting important information and sharing important numbers, the 29-year-old researcher for IBM is making a difference, just like many others on popular social networking sites.
“There’s so much to do behind the scenes; we’re all just a bunch of people who have time on our hands,” he says. On Twitter, trying to find information on what was going on in Chennai, krtgrphr admits that he was feeling helpless about not being able to “effect change on the ground. So you try to do anything you can.”
While a lot of people have opened up their homes, some have started distributing food packets, water and clothes in their areas. How can people sitting at home help? “They can help us right now by connecting those without connections or power or battery to rescue services, food, shelter etc.
And help anyone you see around,” he urges. As a former resident of Chennai, krtgrphr is one of the many who has used social media to effect change for the good. “It’s the participants that make Twitter what it really is.”
Fishermen sail in to help
The fishermen of Chennai are rowing their boats in the flooded streets of the city to rescue those who are stranded. Boats from places such as Kasimedu, Kottivakkam Kuppam, and Kovalam are being transported in trucks along with fishermen-volunteers to the flood-hit regions. “We rescued some 400 people since morning,” says Selvam, a fisherman from Kovalam. A trained life-guard and surfer, Selvam reached Pallikaranai early in the day along with 18 men from the fishing village.
“We’ve brought three fibre boats, each of which can carry 18 people,” he calls out on the phone from the rescue site over the sound of ambulance sirens. “Those we ferried to safety are all from settlements along the Pallikaranai marsh; they’ve lost everything.”
Selvam and team have put in place a well-planned rescue operation. “The moment we help people into our boats, we row towards safe zones that our men have identified. They wait there for us along with a local who guides us,” he explains. Fisherman Mohan from Kottivakkam also had an early start as he made his way in his fibre boat to rescue those who were stranded. “A lot of men from the kuppam have gone along with him,” says his wife Nithya. “They’ve taken several boats with them… I hope they’re all safe.”
M.D. Dayalan, president of the Indian Fishermen Association, says that Kasimedu alone has offered 40 boats for rescue work. “Our men are coordinating with the Fisheries Department. Boats from as far as Neelankarai and Kanathur are in the city, helping people in low-lying areas.”
Restaurants spring into action
With rescue efforts pouring in, some of the restaurants in the city have also sprung into action. On Tuesday night Japtej Ahluwalia and Nikesh Lamba of Double Roti offered complimentary meals at their outlets in Neelankarai and Cenotaph Road. “Quite a few families passing by stopped for a bite. A lot of cyclists and two-wheeler riders came in too for a quick hot meal,” says Japtej. With the inner roads of Neelankarai flooding, more people ended up in that outlet. Maggi was the most popular dish followed by burgers and sandwiches.
Old Madras Baking Company (OMBC) too welcomed wet stranded passersby for a hot cup of tea/coffee and some sandwiches at all their outlets. Sandy’s, Ox and Tomato and OMBC are open to accommodating people to spend the night there as well. “On Tuesday night about six people spent the night at Sandy’s in Ganapathy Colony,” says Mansi Sandesh Reddy. Tryst cafe put together food boxes to be dispatched to people in need.
Anita Ratnam, classical and contemporary dancer-choreographer
Her house is full of people; just waking up to steaming cups of tea after a long, frightening night. “I was on my way to the airport with a group of ten dancers yesterday to catch a flight to Thailand for a contemporary dance festival. We got into the car at 8 p.m., and eventually gave up because we could not access the airport. We got home at midnight, and on the way I saw eight to nine people huddled under a big tree outside my house. It was terrible,” says Anita.
She responded by opening her home to as many people as she could house, a total of 18, including all the dancers. “I also handed out everything I could: towels, blankets, T-shirts… I completely cleaned out the fridge,” she says, “We slept on every available surface, just using cushions, quilts and all my shawls… I didn’t think about it, I just did it. And that’s how the city is responding to the rain.”
She adds, “We are part of a momentous disaster. Whatever we can do, we do. At least this rain has shown one thing about our city: we are extremely hospitable: warm, welcoming and trusting. I’m not surprised people are opening their homes. Remember in Tamil custom we never say goodbye – we say ‘vaanga’, please come.”
“I would have loved to see the glittering establishments of this city throw open their lobbies as well. When 9/11 happened in New York, all the five star hotels ran ads saying, ‘Please come in’. They opened soup kitchens. Here it is the individual citizens who are reflective of the spirit of the city. It is in crisis that character emerges.”
Sam Paul, lawyer and entrepreneur
On Tuesday, as flood waters rose in and around Chennai, Sam Paul rounded a group of friends and family members and started a rescue service. They split into teams and went about rescuing marooned families, supplying food, medicine and offering shelter. Sam’s house as of now is hosting four families. “We rescued a family from Perambur where the water level was 12 feet. Two grandparents and a grandson. We even rescued a dog. Our friends too have opened up their houses for those stranded,” he says.
Till about 7.30 am on Wednesday Sam, Lenin Paul, Ajit Sigamani and Jose Sigamani drove through Mudichur, Velachery, Guduvanchery, Madipakkam and Tambaram getting stranded people out.
Pleased with how people from the city are banding together to lend support, Sam says activist Abdul Ghani and his team too are doing good work. “They even rescued a pregnant woman, who was then admitted to SRM hospital where she delivered a baby,” he says.
In addition Sam’s restaurant chain of Jonah’s is cooking and supplying food for 300 people.
The initiative has grown with more people joining in as volunteers and shortly a Facebook page titled Chennai food, rescue and shelter will be up to spread the message and services.
Murthy Megavan, fisherman and surfer
“Our Covelong boys team helped the stranded during the floods by using whatever was available such as kayaks, catamarans and fishing boats. We rescued around 200 girls from hostels and also other college students. We had fun doing it – clowned around a bit by taking advantage of the empty toll booths.”
Tamil Nadu has been battling with heavy rains day after day and third third spell of torrential rains lashed the city.
Two columns of Army’s Garrison Infantry Battalion have been pressed into service in Tambaram and Oorapakkam after the Tamil Nadu government sought military assistance.
Please forward these telephone numbers for all the needy in Chennai and surrounding areas.
NDRF has issued its helpline number for further assistance: 011-24363260, +919711077372.
Chennai Army Helpline: 9840295100
Navy helpline numbers: 044-27237107, 044-25394240
The Chennai City Corporation has set up emergency control rooms across the city. Regional office numbers:
First Regional Office (Tiruvottiyur) – 09445190001
Second Regional Office (Manali) – 09445190002
Third Regional Office (Madhavaram) – 09445190003
Fourth Regional Office (Tondiarpet) – 09445190004
Fifth Regional Office (Royapuram) – 0944510005
Sixth Regional Office (Thiru. Vi. Ka. Nagar) – 09445190006
Puducherry helpline numbers:
Toll no: 1070, 1077
District collector: 9597706680
Tree fall, Water logging – 1913
Sewage overflow – 45674567, 22200335
State Emergency: 1070
District Emergency: 1077
Fire and Rescue: 101
Southern Railway help line numbers:
NOT TO BE OUTSMARTED BY OTHER CITIES, THE CHENNAI CORPORATION HAS PROPOSED TO INCREASE THE PROPERTY TAXES BY 10% TO 40% ON DIFFERENTIAL SLAB RATES, IF ACCEPTED BY THE GOVERNMENT.
The Chennai City Corporation is set to improve the enforcement of rules pertaining to building by laws and compliance to the norms and violations may dwindle in the city as the State government cleared the Corporation’s proposal for a new administrative structure, which will facilitate the use of three regional offices more effectively, with separate executive engineers for town planning enforcement and town planning approval.
There are over 11 lakh properties in the 15 zones of the city and it is said that at least five lakh residential and commercial properties in the city have violated building norms and termed as DANGEROUS BUILDINGS.
Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA), on Friday sealed a building that was constructed without applications for planning permission.
A note from CMDA said the owner had constructed basement, a ground floor and three additional floors in total violation of norms.
Despite a stop work notice issued in November, the owner went ahead and completed the building.
THE PRELIMINARY SURVEY FOR THE `GREAT` MUMBAI – BANGALORE ECONOMIC CORRIDOR BEGINS TODAY, COVERING PUNE, SANGLI, SATARA, KOLHAPUR, BELGAUM, HUBLI-DHARWAD, DAVANAGERE, CHITRADURGA, TUMKUR AND TOUCHES BANGALORE.
THIS CORRIDOR DOES NOT STOP AT BANGALORE.
WITH THE JAPANESE AID, THE PRELIMINARY DEVELOPMENT PROJECT BETWEEN THE DEVELOPED CORRIDOR `CHENNAI – BANGALORE` IS ALREADY UNDER PROGRESS.
IT IS AN ECONOMIC CORRIDOR TOUCHING THE EASTERN AND WESTERN TIP OF SOUTH INDIA, MARKING ROBUST DEVELOPMENT. IT MAY BE 10 YEARS OR 20 YEARS, THE GEOGRAPHICAL MAP WILL BE DOTTED WITH DEVELOPMENT.
WE WILL SUBMIT A MEMORANDUM TO THE GOVERNMENTS TO SAFEGUARD THE ENVIRONMENT IN THIS PROCESS OF DEVELOPMENT. A 6 LANE SIGNAL FREE CORRIDOR IS IN THE OFFING ON EITHER SIDE OF THE ROAD CONNECTING MUMBAI AND CHENNAI AND THE TRAVELING TIME WILL BE REDUCED TO 12 HOURS ON THE FAST TRACK.
THIS MIGHT BE CALLED THE `RHUR` OF INDIA !!!
It is sad to note that the builders/sellers/developers have utmost disregard to the Apex Court`s orders on the sale of car parking space in housing societies and apartments and have misread the orders in order to mislead the buyers.
ONE SUCH CASE:
In the present case, the builder is the Central Government Employees’ Welfare Housing Organisation, a unit of the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation. While the builder has put 485 stilt car parks up for sale in the apartment project nearing completion at Paruthipattu, near Poonamallee, the buyers are resisting it saying it goes against the Supreme Court’s ruling. The apex court had ruled way back in August, 2010 that “The promoter has no right to sell stilt parking spaces as these are neither flat nor appurtenant or attachment to a flat.”
Most Chennai builders have been collecting hefty amounts for providing car parking facilities, from Rs 75,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh for open car park and Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 3 lakh for stilt car park. Though many individual buyers would have raised objection to such practices, such an organised spirited protest is being staged for the first time.
About 100 elderly home buyers observed a one-day fast protesting against their builder, in Chennai,which is levying hefty charges on them for providing stilt car park, a thing the apex court in the country had ruled illegal in 2010.
‘Withhold Sanction For Fresh Projects Of Builders Who’ve History Of Plan Violations’
The search for a mechanism to rein in builders and developers who churn out buildings in violation of sanctioned plans or raise unauthorised constructions, may end here. If this suggestion of the Madras high court is implemented, unscrupulous builders and promoters, who flout development control rules, may have to either quit the trade or comply with the regulations. A division bench of Justices Prabha Sridevan and M Sathyanarayanan has said the government could withhold sanction for fresh projects of builders who face charges of unauthorised construction or deviation from sanctioned plan.
“Desperate situations require desperate measures,” the judges said, adding: “If sanction is refused on the ground of previous violation, these unscrupulous and careless buildings will be reined in and (will) toe the line. These irregular constructions will not come up. Only then, the living standards of this city can be maintained.” The judges also hoped that the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) and the government would take necessary action. The Ambattur Municipality, which too was made a party to the proceedings, was represented by special government pleader I Paranthamen. The matter relates to a PIL filed by R Vanaja, who alleged that a builder had put up a totally unauthorised construction at Golden Colony in Mogappair (West), and that the building enjoyed electricity as well as sewerage connection. With these facilities in place, the builder had transferred the property to a third party, she said. She wanted the building to be razed. Not denying the charges, the builder said the structure had no sanction plan and that his first plea for regularisation had already been rejected by the CMDA. His second application is pending, he said. The bench, expressing concern at the “unchecked proliferation of deviated construction,” said: “We think that a time has come for the CMDA to consider whether some safeguards should be provided or should be introduced in the form of regulations, which will bring to the notice of the sanctioning authorities that the builder or the promoter who applies for sanction plan is already facing litigation for construction not in accordance with sanctioned plan. Then, approval shall not be given to such applicants. Some measures like this alone will discourage the persons who have no respect for adhering to the sanctioned plan, and who are motivated by greed and nothing else.”
The bench has adjourned the matter to February 2, for further proceedings. As per the original Supreme Court order, only those buildings that were completed before the cut off date of February 28, 1999 were eligible for exemption from demolition. However, the state government issued three ordinances in 2000, 2001 and 2002, each time giving a one-year moratorium for the rogue buildings. Though the Madras high court struck down the ordinances in 2007, the apex court ordered status quo.
The government, in the meantime, came out with two more ordinances of similar nature, and the second ordinance is valid till July 2010.
Many builders don’t seek approval in firms’ names For a city that is struggling to deal with close to two lakh building violations, the Madras high court order on illegal constructions has come as a welcome relief. If followed in letter and spirit, the court order could infuse much-needed transparency into Chennai’s real estate sector.
Reacting to the court order, Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (CREDAI), Tamil Nadu chapter president, T Chitty Babu said, “We welcome this judgment. It would put an end to further violations in the city. Building violations are indulged in mostly by individuals who construct houses on their own or small-time builders. The court order is a boon for builders who stick to rules and do quality construction. We will educate CREDAI members on the implications of the order. We already have a code of conduct and those who violate development control rules have no place in our organisation. The regulatory agencies should also see to it that no building is given power, water and sewerage connections without obtaining completion certificate.
“Blacklisting those who violate norms is a ticklish issue because many builders do not apply for approvals in their firms’ names. The applicants would be, at times, land owners, with whom builders would have signed joint-venture agreements for promoting the project. In such cases, even if there are violations, the builders would go scot-free. Hence, the CMDA and DTCP will have a tough time tackling this issue,” said Chitty Babu.
CMDA vice chairperson Susan Mathew told TOI, “Looking at the large-scale violations that have taken place in the city in the past, the high court order is significant. However, we will have to read the order and seek government opinion before deciding on further course of action. The issue will be discussed in the meeting of the Authority (CMDA’s supreme decision-making body) on January 19. We have been periodically issuing notices on buildings that have violated rules after July, 2007. Many buildings have also been sealed.”
Chennai has enough of building violations – starting from violation of permissible floor space index (FSI is the ratio of built-up space to land area) to construction of buildings without approval. The government not only failed in reining in builders doing illegal constructions, but also went about condoning many violations in the past through a series of regularisation schemes in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002. However, the high court subsequently struck down the last three regularisation schemes saying that exemptions like regularisation should be given only once.