As rains wreak havoc in Chennai and some areas of Tamil Nadu, the ghosts of the past reappear, bring the people closer to reality. There is enough clarity on the condition of the newly-constructed roads and the sewerage system of the city. Indeed, little has changed since the last debacle in 2015.
Interestingly, even amid chaos, the corporation has found a way to evade uncomfortable questions from the public. Just a day ahead of the rains, the contact details and the work information of the contractors responsible for laying most of the roads have disappeared from the corporation site. The details included the name of the contractor, code, the total work taken up, its value and total payment released. The excel sheet also comprised the name of the executing department, expected completion date and commencement date.
Arappor Iy akkam, the anti-corruption NGO, however has been able to preserve some back up. According to a report by the Times of India, they released data showing that one of the contractors had completed 100% of the jobs assigned to him. However, a reality check bared the reality.
Arappor Iyakkam convenor Jaya ram Venkatesan said, "During our public event in Ramapuram on October 28, we had spoken about the irregularities in awarding of contracts which we plan to expose in a few days. More than `350 crore has been allocated and spent in the last two years just on bus route roads across Chennai. Removal of data is shocking."
What ensued was a blame game between the corporation officials and the contractors. While government officials cried foul play, contractors believe this was done by the officials to avoid bribery exposes.
Not just that, other data pertaining to civic work have also been removed. One of the NGO members said, "details can still be obtained by filing RTI petitions, but the applicant will need to know what details to ask." Meanwhile, a complaint has been lodged to the corporation commissioner D Karthikeyan and an inquiry has been demanded against the person who removed the details.