Awareness programme on civic issues at Velacheri 5 May

Chennai: It is normal to see road being dug up and left unattended for days together, it is also common to see garbage uncleared for weeks and it is definitely not alarming when bribe is sought to get your work done.

But, how does a commonman find his way through these mess and get things done? One might find the answer from a free citizens awareness event called ‘Know your rights’ conducted by Arappor Iyakkam 5 May at VGS Party Hall, Narayanapuram, Pallikaranai in Velacheri.

The organisation is a non-political movement, which is known for representing citizens and fighting for their rights. The group comprises 30 people who came together three-and-a-half years ago.

Subathra Devi Dhanasingh, a core member of the State body and who is in-charge of their training programmes, says, “Velacheri is plagued by several problems. Most of us do not know whom to approach in order to get the work done. Even the helpline numbers are unfamiliar to us. Most of us know what ‘911’ is for – an emergency number in the USA. But, how many of us know about integration helpline ‘112’ that was launched recently. How many of us have dialed ‘100’ or know what ‘1912’ is for?”

‘Know your right’ teaches all kinds of complaint mechanisms. She says, “There are 40-45 problems that you can inform the Chennai Corporation through phone numbers, online or use their app and also subsequently track its status. The sessions also help you learn how to file an RTI, what to do if bribe is sought or if a police station denies to accept a complaint.”

Subathra has a compelling eye-opener theory about Velacheri to share. “There is a large population of high-income class in Velacheri. If you take Indian average, 82 per cent of adults earn less that Rs 10,000 a month, that is, 4 out of 5 people are in this category. But if you take Velacheri, this equation is completely different. Thousands of people earn a very good salary, they are paying very high amount of tax, and particularly, a very big amount of professional tax that directly goes to Chennai Corporation,” she informs.

“So many software engineers live in this area. They fly to and fro from the neighbourhood to other countries, but if there is a problem in their street, they don’t know whom to approach to rectify it. And if at all they file a complaint and it is not addressed, they don’t know how to make it work,” Subathra points out.

The Iyakkam also has a ward leadership residential training programme, which helps turn residents into watchdogs to look into public spending in the area. This programme will be held from 17 to 19 May.

For details, contact 96291 44430, 99432 29642.

Naomi N