Education, infra focus of Chennai civic body’s budget

ByDivya Ch, Chennai
Mar 28, 2023 12:47 AM IST

Corporation school students who clear Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) and the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) and get admission in institutes such as AIIMS, National Law School will be eligible for this benefit from this year onwards.

The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) will cover the first-year tuition fee of their students who qualify in competitive exams and get admission in nationally-recognised institutions. The announcement was made on Monday when ruling DMK-led GCC presented its budget for 2023-24.Besides education, upgraded road infrastructure, storm water drains for flood mitigation, and increase in green spaces were the focus in the 2023-’24 budget for Chennai.

Mayor R Priya presented her second budget (ANI)
Mayor R Priya presented her second budget (ANI)

Corporation school students who clear Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) and the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) and get admission in institutes such as AIIMS, National Law School will be eligible for this benefit from this year onwards.

“Separate guidelines will be issued on this soon,” said Chennai mayor R Priya. Corporation schools students from Class 9 to 12 will be chosen via an entrance test to coach them for competitive examinations.

Of the 64 announcements made in the last year’s budget, 35 projects have been completed, 28 are underway and one project will be done in 2023-24, said the mayor.

First Dalit woman from Chennai and the youngest ever to occupy this position, mayor Priya presented her second budget after the DMK formed the government in Tamil Nadu in May 2021 with a revenue deficit at 335 crore. The civic body projects a property tax collection of 1680 crores in 2023-2024.

The GCC allotted 1482.7 crore for construction of storm water drains, 881 crore for bus route roads under Singara Chennai 2.0 and 149.55 crore has been allocated under the Tamil Nadu Urban Road Infrastructure Fund (TURIF) for laying 1,335 bus route roads covering 251 km .

The corporation allocated 102.5 crore for constructing new bridges and widening the existing ones and 260.5 crore was allocated for solid waste management.

For converting open areas into parks and playgrounds, 77 crore has been allocated. The ward development fund of the councillors has been hiked from 35 lakh to 40 lakh annually and special work will be carried out under these funds.

Given the city’s high vehicular density, a parking and transportation development committee will be formed to improve facilities in Chennai. The on-street parking, which is managed by private companies in three out of Chennai’s 15 zones, will be expanded.

Several announcements were also made on the education front, such as introducing “happy classes” everyday for 10 minutes during the first period. “Students will be taught morality, love and virtues during this time,” the mayor said.

A model school will be constructed at 6.26 crore in the government higher secondary school. Model ‘United Nations’ will be formed in Chennai corporation schools to improve students’ knowledge in international affairs. The incentive for teachers producing 100% results in Classes 10 and 12 examinations has been increased from 1,500 to 3,000.

The civic body also launched “Makkalai Thedi Mayor” (mayor’s meeting with people) where the mayor would meet residents every month in each of Chennai’s three regional offices, north, central and south, to address their grievances.

Meanwhile, reacting to the budget, the T Nagar Residents’ Welfare Association said that the GCC has projected a property tax collection of 1680 crore but during the last financial year 2022-23, against the projection of 1500 crore why could GCC collect only 1400 crore.

“For 2023-24, the corporation has set a target of 1680 crore... it seems to be far below then the total collectible under property tax, considering the huge arrears,” one of the association members said seeking anonymity.

“Of the target set for 2023-24, how much chunk will form part of the tax actually collectible for the year and how much will form part of the arrears. The GCC has set a target even for collecting arrears. In the defaulters list uploaded on the website, besides giving details of top 100 defaulters, it had given details of those who had filed cases,” said another member.

“The GCC stated that due to such cases, it has not been able to collect the arrears. Wherever the parties have obtained stay, the GCC should vacate the stay and collect the arrears. It cannot sit on such cases. Its revenue will definitely improve if only the GCC makes valiant efforts to collect the arrears as well,” he said.

The allocation of funds for road work, SWDs, beautification of parks are welcome but funds should be spent judiciously for the purposes they are allocated, said another member.

“Maakalai Thedi Mayor is a welcome step but the meeting should be meaningful. The mayor and deputy mayor Mahesh Kumar don’t even respond to the messages on WhatsApp. If they really care about the public, they should respond. They should make impromptu visits to wards to see the real state of things,” the member added.

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