DR. T. SUMATHY (A) THAMIZHACHI THANGAPANDIAN (CHENNAI SOUTH):
Hon. Speaker, Sir, the Finance Ministry had issued an order in the first week of June that no new scheme/sub-scheme, whether under delegate power of administrative Ministry including SFC proposals or through EFC, should be initiated this year (2020-21) except the proposal announced under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package, Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan Package and any other special package announced.
This means, the initiation of new schemes already appraised/approved will remain suspended for one year till March 31, 2021 or till further orders, whichever is earlier. This is applicable for those schemes as well for which in-principle approval has already been given by the Department of Expenditure. Approval of the Parliament is sought to authorise the First Batch of Supplementary Demands for Grants for 2020-21 under the extraordinary circumstances due to COVID-19 crisis.
The total allocation of SDRMF (2020-21) in Tami Nadu is Rs.1,360 crore of which Rs.1,020 crore is the Central share and Rs.340 crore is State share. Tamil Nadu, being one of the most vulnerable States in the country, requires more funds from the Centre. But the Centre had not released amount under certain Centrally sponsored schemes for which the Government of Tamil Nadu had already spent. This will create a big hole in Tamil Nadu Budget in the coming year.
The Union Government has yet to release an amount of Rs.17,000 crore to Tamil Nadu as part of its share for Centrally sponsored schemes or towards reimbursing the money spent by the Government of Tamil Nadu. Tami Nadu is yet to get post/pre-matric scholarship funds of Rs.1500 crores meant for SC/ST students. Similarly, in School Education Department, Rs.1200 crore is yet to released.
Under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin), an amount of Rs.600 crores, is still pending from the Central Government. A total amount of about Rs.1500 crores is yet to be released under the revised restructured Technology Upgradation Funds Scheme (TUFS) to entrepreneurs in Tamil Nadu.
Sir, it is either due to the lackadaisical approach of the Government of Tamil Nadu and indifferent approach of the Union Government or by both. But we cannot just play like that with lives of the people, poor and downtrodden, SC/ST students, farmers and fisher folks, textile workers and MSME people. People of Tamil Nadu deserve better.
Sir, any delay in the release of funds sanctioned will not only affect the proper implementation of Centrally sponsored schemes but adversely affect the socio-economic and educational status of the beneficiaries. Therefore, I urge upon the Union Government to expedite the release of Rs.17,000 crores dues to Tamil Nadu and to avoid any such shortfalls in the approved Central share release in future.
Lots of efforts have to be taken under Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust (CRRT) to reduce the sewage let into the rivers and other water bodies of Chennai mega city. Creation and restoration of water bodies in Chennai and adjoining areas at the cost of Rs.500 crores and restoration of Chennai waterways at the cost of Rs.10,000 crores are the need of the hour.
The Cooum river restoration project had to be implemented at a total cost of Rs.3,833.62 crore in five years with Chennai River Restoration Trust as the nodal agency. But nothing has been done concretely so far to implement such an important programme. Apart from the Adyar River Eco-Restoration Project, Rs.150 crore was allocated out of the Environment Protection and Renewable Energy Fund to restore lake, water bodies in Chennai and other Cities, including Rs.42 crore for restoration of Chetpet Lake.
The Remediation/closure of Perungudi/kodungaiyur dump yards at the cost of Rs. 150 crores and Greenfield Regional Landfill and waste Processing Facility at the cost of Rs. 150 crores and an integrated waste collection and Transfer at the cost of Rs. 200 crores.
The 100 per cent sanitized and open defecation free city project at the cost of Rs.300 crores and Slum-free city program at the cost of Rs. 25000 crores include 100 per cent sewerage coverage program at the cost of Rs. 7000 crores.
The Department of Fisheries in Tamil Nadu has pioneered many fishery development activities in India. The Union Government has promised to form a separate Ministry to develop and conserve the fisheries’ resources and to ameliorate the socio-economic status of the fishermen community.
The allocation made for important Central schemes like Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Smart Cities Mission, (iii) Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Urban (PMAY-U), (iv) Swachh Bharat Mission Urban (SBM-U), and Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihood Mission (DAY-NULM) is inadequate and insufficient to execute the ambitious targets set by the sloganeering Government.
Sir, under AMRUT Scheme, the Centre has not allocated adequate funds except few crores and the Government of Tamil Nadu has not done any noticeable work under this Scheme. This is the sorry state of affairs of the implementation of this Scheme.
The Smart Cities Mission lags way behind both in allocation of funds and execution of works. Under this Scheme, Government of India have selected 11 cities in Tamil Nadu to be developed as Smart Cities which includes Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Thanjavur, Salem, Vellore, Tiruppur, Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli, Tiruchirappalli and Erode.
Sir, due to the lack of coordination between the different corporations and Tamil Nadu Urban Finance and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. (TUFIDCO) as well as due to the political interference, the smart cities project in Tamil Nadu is non-starter. There is an urgent need for proper devolution of funds from the Centre and allocation and proper utilisation of funds by the Government of Tamil Nadu. Otherwise, reaching the desired targets in Smart Cities Mission is a distant dream.
Out of 378 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.10,379.14 crore, 63 projects at a cost of Rs.248.09 crore have been completed, 199 projects at a cost of Rs.5,502.40 crore are under execution and the remaining projects are under various stages of implementation. I would like to place on record in this august House that under the Smart City Mission, all the 11 cities of Tamil Nadu are totally neglected.
PMAY-U is an Affordable Housing Scheme being implemented from 2015 to 2022. The budgetary allocation towards the scheme for 2020-21 is Rs. 8,000 crore. But till December 2019, 103 lakh houses have been approved. Of this, as per the Government’s data only 31% houses have been constructed. That means, the implementation of this Scheme is going at snail’s pace and the Governments both at the Centre and State are doing publicity gimmicks only. The percentage of beneficiaries is very less and negligible compared to the Mission targets.
Sir, more than 35 per cent of Chennai population live in slums. Chennai metropolitan population has grown from 2.64 million in 1971 to 6.5 Million as of now. The expansion of Chennai Metropolitan Development Area (CMDA) from 1,189 square kilometres to 8,878 square kilometres has increased slum population eight-fold. Slums present the most unhygienic, ugliest, nauseating scene. During rainy season, the whole area gets flooded, the pathways become swampy and the entire colony becomes a fertile breeding place for mosquitoes, exposing the slum dwellers living in the area to all sorts of diseases. During summer, the thatched huts are prone to fire accidents. Thus, the slum dwellers’ life is the most miserable one.
The major factor contributing the development of slums is the lack of employment in rural areas and rapid urbanisation. People migrate from their hometown to Chennai and get employed in different unorganised sectors.
The Government did not have any policy for the welfare of slum dwellers until our visionary leader, Dr. Kalaignar, empowered the government to protect the rights of slum dwellers from eviction or relocation in 1971. The policy helped in created Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) in 1971.
The Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act, 1971 mandates a review of the Master Plan in every five years. This was not taken up by the CMDA and the Tamil Nadu Government. The CMDA has forgotten to address the changes due to climate change, urbanisation, and Chennai’s expansion. Most of the slums do not have drainage facilities and open toilets are widely used, resulting in spread of diseases. The slum dwellers of Chennai are the worst affected due to very heavy rains, frequent floods and cyclonic storms during monsoons.
Development for the urban poor is beyond the provision of social housing. It involves the improvement of people’s capacities within the urban sphere. This requires around 1.5 lakh houses with all the associated infrastructure facilities for providing quality education to medical care to create Smart Slums in Chennai Metropolitan Area.
I, therefore, urge the Government to take appropriate steps to provide funds for the construction of 1.5 lakh houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Housing for All (Urban) and also initiate the Smart Slums Programme under the Smart Cities Initiative in Chennai metropolitan area which cover my South Chennai constituency.
The much publicised and projected, Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) to eliminate open defecation is also falling in gutters. The Government’s proclamation of achieving 100 per cent scientific management of municipal solid waste in all 4,041 statutory towns by October 2, 2019 has gone in thin air.
In 2020-21, Rs. 2,300 crore has been allocated towards the Scheme. The total estimated cost of implementation of SBM-U is Rs. 62,009 crore but the results achieved so far do not justify both allocation and proclamation. I do not know whether the Government could continue this scheme considering the extraordinary situation due to COVID-19 as the country’s GDP witnessed an abysmal fall.
Sir, Chennai, a thriving metropolis, is also known for its diverse ecosystem. The Pallikaranai marshland covering a geographical area of 80 square kilometres is one of the most significant wetland ecosystems which play an important role in the natural drainage systems in South India. Unfortunately, mindless damages have been done to its environment, making its very existence uncertain in future. It is most unfortunate that the Government at the State is the biggest culprit in the last decade. The lack of scientific approach coupled with inept and corrupt state Government made the things bad to worse and the disaster is awaiting.
The marshland has come under serious threat due to the developmental programmes adopted by the Government. Major problem faced by the marsh is the dumping of municipal wastes. The Corporation of Chennai is dumping about 2,200 tonnes of garbage in landfills right over the marsh. Besides, due to a sewage treatment plant which is located in this region, 32 million litres of untreated sewage are being let into the marsh on a daily basis. This has done an irreparable damage to the Pallikaranai marsh, which is most vulnerable to encroachment and degradation.
“If you mess with nature, it messes with you”. This suits best for Pallikaranai marshland. At present, the Chromium content in the land and groundwater is hazardously high and the air quality is too deteriorated and it exceeds the healthy limits by manyfold.
Due to rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, Pallikaranai marshland was reduced to one-tenth of its original extent. The presence of a major dump-yard and sewage treatment plant operated in the ecologically sensitive areas of Pallikaranai marsh poses a great threat to the biodiversity of the wetland. If the landfills are closed and sewage treatment plants relocated, the damage can be curtailed. The Madras High Court, in one of its recent verdicts, has ruled for the protection and preservation of 1,716 acres of marshland.
As a first real effort to protect the wetlands, Dr. Kalaignar’s Government declared 317 hectares (780 acres) of the marsh as a reserve forest on 9th April, 2007 (Gazette notification G.O.Ms.No.52, dated 9 April 2007) under the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980 and brought under the jurisdiction of Tambaram range, a separate range in Chengalpattu Forest Division with headquarters at Pallikaranai.
The Government of Tamil Nadu, in its State Budget of 2019-20, has allocated Rs.165.68 crore for restoration of the Pallikaranai marshland. But none of the projects announced so far to protect Pallikaranal marsh lands have been property done.
Therefore, I urge the Union Government to initiate immediately a comprehensive biodiversity protection and conservation project under the National Wetland Conservation Programme to save the marshland of Paliikaranal.
Given the pace of urbanisation, large capital investments are needed for infrastructure projects which include support from Central and State Governments in the form of capital grants.
Sir, Tholkappia Poonga or Adyar Eco-Park in the Adyar estuary area of Chennai is the brain child of our mercurial leader, Dr. Kalaignar and Thalapathy M.K. Stalin. The remarkable Poonga which acts as the oxygen factory of Chennai, is located in my South Chennai constituency. The project envisages the restoration of vegetation of Adyar estuary and creek, and the beautification of 358 acres of land once discarded by the local people as city’s sewage and effluence dumping ground.
The Eco Park was inaugurated on 22 January, 2011 by Dr. Kalaignar and named after the renowned Tamil scholar, Tholkappiar. 500 acres of undisturbed tropical dry evergreen forest remain in Tamil Nadu and the Eco Park, serves as a significant conservation effort to bring this vegetation back to the Coromandel coast. But the present State Government has almost jeopardised the priority accorded to this very important eco restoration project in the heart of Chennai city. Though two-and-a-half years passed after the Government of Tamil Nadu announced Rs.555.46 crore for executing the third phase of Adyar river restoration project, the project is still very much wanting. Therefore, I urge the Union Government to provide necessary financial and technological support through the Central agencies and sanction Rs.500 crores for the development and expansion of Tholkappiar Poonga and to expedite the Adyar River Restoration Project.
In 2020-21, Rs.20,000 crore has been allocated towards metro projects. This is a 6 per cent increase over the revised estimates of 2019-20. As of December 20, 2018, there are 27 on-going metro rails that have been set up as a 50:50 joint venture between the Central Government and respective State Governments. These have a total approximate completion cost of Rs 3,36,954 crore.
The metropolitan Chennai has been growing rapidly and traffic volumes have increased greatly. To promote and ease public transport of various forms including metro rail and to ensure that the share of public transportation in Chennai city is substantially increased, top most priority was accorded by our beloved leader, Dr. KaIaignar during his golden reign.
A detailed feasibility report for the expansion of the Chennai Metro Rail Project Phase II along 3 corridors – North West to South East; West to East; and an orbital corridor for a length of 118.9 kms. at an estimated cost of Rs.69,180 crore is very important for the people of Chennai, particularly my South Chennai constituency which extends up to Sholinganallur and beyond.
Also, the integration of the Chennai Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS), with the Chennai Metro Rail is desirable and would enable effective synergies between various modes of public transport and increase share of public transport.
I urge upon the Government to support the Phase II of the Metro Rail Project of Chennai and to ensure that all necessary clearances are provided expeditiously to fulfil the dream and aspirations of the people of Chennai to provide the much-needed fillip to the public transport system in the Chennai metropolitan city. I urge the Union Government to expedite the Phase-II of Chennai Metro Rail Project.
The Chennai metropolitan city is bursting with almost one crore people and also has a huge floating population converging from all corners of Tamil Nadu, India and world over. Unfortunately, the capacity of the city roads to handle the surging population of people and vehicles continues to be same and awfully inadequate, resulting in frequent traffic snarls and blockades. The people of Chennai city are often marred with traffic congestion, aging and worn-out road infrastructure and pedestrian-vehicular conflicts.
South Chennai constituency is formed by a major part of Chennai metro city and is affected very badly due to frequent traffic snarls, road blocks due to pedestrian-vehicular conflicts occur at Virugambakkam, Valasaravakkam, Vadapalani, T.Nagar, Adayar, Velacherry, Tharamani, Thiruvanmiyur, Perungudi and Sholinganallur road junctions. Chennai city has become the worst affected city due to frequent road accidents and fatal deaths. The Government of Tamil Nadu is blind and crippled.
The Chennai metropolitan city desperately requires several new impetuses in urban road infrastructure to mitigate traffic hurls and pedestrian-vehicle conflicts in almost all the road junctions.
Sensing the need for a skywalk or Foot Over Bridge demand for the same was proposed by several civic organizations and NGOs. Two years over, nothing has happened in bringing the proposal into reality. Skywalks with escalators and travelators are the need of the hour and should be established under the Smart Cities Mission. However, it is learnt that no such efforts were taken under Smart Cities Mission so far.
The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority is all set to draw up a Third Master Plan for the Chennai Metropolitan Area (CMA) whose size would increase seven-fold. In these circumstances, I urge the Union Government to take necessary steps to expedite the sanction and construction of skywalks, Foot Over Bridges with escalator and travelator facilities at all the vantage road junctions in my South Chennai Constituency. As a member of Parliament from Chennai South parliamentary constituency, I urge the Hon. Minister once again to expedite the second phase of Chennai Metro Rail Project. I would aIso request the Union Government to set up a vigilance inquiry by Central agencies to find out how much funds allocated through the various Central schemes were siphoned by the corrupt agencies in Tamil Nadu, like what has happened in the PM Kisan Samman Yojana recently. Thank You.