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Donnerstag, 2.12.2021
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Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Dr P Thiaga Rajan blamed “grotesque violation” of smart city project norms across the state for the deluge.

In an interview with India Today TV Consulting Editor Rajdeep Sardesai, Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Dr P Thiaga Rajan blamed “grotesque violation” of smart city project norms across the state for the deluge. Excerpts:

Q: What’s the big learning for the government over the last few days?

The rainfall has been quite intense. The learning is that we have problems. The short-term problem is there was massive corruption in the spending of money for stormwater drains. The former chief minister said in his campaign speech that roads wouldn’t be flooded during the rains. But that was to seek votes.

The chief minister has announced an inquiry commission. I have announced a special audit of the smart city scheme all over the state for various violations. In the medium term, urban planning has not been one of the best practices or priorities, particularly for the last 10 years. Historically, we have been less than stellar at it, all over India, all governments. The biggest learning in the long-term is that we have lost many precious water bodies and we have the consequences for not having done enough to restore them.

Q: DMK has controlled Chennai Corporation. The fact is, money meant for stormwater drains has been misused

I think you need to check your facts. The last five years, there’s been no corporation. The smart city programme is a joint programme between the Centre and the state. There are certain norms to be followed local bodies and mayors should have design approvals. There should be an oversight committee of MLAs, MPs and other elected representatives, and a special purpose vehicle. All of this was violated in Tamil Nadu’s case. There was no local body election held. The last one was in 2016. There has been a grotesque violation of all norms in the smart city programme, not just in Chennai but all over Tamil Nadu.

Q: Encroachments have choked water bodies. Is this a wake-up call for Chennai?

Within the time available to us, considering the second wave of Covid, we have done a lot of work. The execution on the ground has been phenomenal. Whatever was doable, we have done. We need long-term solutions for water management.

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Quelle/Source: India Today, 11.11.2021

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