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Vol. XXXII No. 1, April 16-30, 2022

Our Readers Write

Property tax hike!

The all of a sudden and surprising decision of the Government to hike the property tax with effect from April 2022 comes a shocker as it was least expected from the people-friendly government, which came to power on a slew of promises, of course, at the cost of the public exchequer, and a Chief Minister, who claims himself as ‘one among’ the public. The surprise is all the more in that the DMK in its election manifesto had stated that property tax will not be hiked until the economy completely recovers from the effects of Covid-19 [Item No.487 in the election manifesto].

Even considering that the present revision is compelled by the recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission and to get the Central Funds, will the GCC be able to realize the projected amount? It was stated that the GCC will mop up Rs. 1,100 crores by way of this revision for the period 2022-23.Would it possible for the GCC to collect either the whole or at least part of it? I dare say, no. Even if the GCC is able to collect half of the estimated amount, that is Rs.550 crores, which in itself is a tall order, the balance amount of Rs.550 crores will definitely fall under the list of ‘arrears’. Thus, while on paper, GCC can boast of projections, in reality, the civic body will remain revenue-starved. And, this is how the arrears grow every year. Further, the GCC does not have a fixed strategy or any drive to collect a sizable amount which remains in arrears for years. We wonder why the civic body still struggles to come out of the mess even when it revises the tax. The reason is not far to seek. Total disinterest on the part of the officials to collect the arrears is the sole reason.
Very recently, the GCC could realize Rs.84 lakhs which was in arrears for years from a theatre, following its decision to lock the cinema for non-payment of arrears. Within hours of its closure, the theatre ­owners had paid the money. When such actions yield results, why does it not pursue the same against the chronic defaulters?

The GCC therefore has to unveil, first and foremost, a definitive path to collect the arrears to achieve its financial freedom. Unless this is not done, the GCC will ever remain in financial stress even when it revises the tax every now and then. To sum up, every revision should match with the collection, besides the collection of arrears.

V.S. Jayaraman
31, Motilal Street
Chenai 600 017

Thiruvanmiyur Beach – a new Eden

by Sujatha Chandramouli

One of the things I missed during the pandemic lockdowns was my early morning walk at the Thiruvanmiyur beach, a custom that I have followed for the past 10 years. The beach is a hidden paradise. It stretches from Valmiki Nagar to Kottivakkam, skirted by a walking path roughly a mile long. No main roads lead to it; it isn’t easily accessible by public transport either. The Thiruvanmiyur beach is maintained by a committee of elected representatives of the ECBWA (East Coast Beach Walkers Association).

A distant relative of Marina and a poor cousin of Bessy, you say? It’s true that you will find neither lighthouses nor monuments here. No churches or dargahs, either. The beach has only a small watch tower that occasionally makes announcements of safety warnings. But you see, if Guindy park is the green lung of Adyar, then Thiruvanmiyur beach is where the environment breathes. The beach offers you a gorgeous, unbroken vista of the sea.

The Thiruvanmiyur beach is a favourite of citizens of varying ages and interests. Pay attention to the chatter and you will be updated on all fronts: market tips, politics, last night’s exciting match or the latest trends in real estate. You will see grey-haired maamis sitting on the low sea wall in walking shoes, exchanging heritage family recipes – vathal, vadu, avvakai, nellikai. Vending permits are taken seriously, here. The beach has a few vendors selling fruits, vegetables and other varieties of health food. There are eco-warriors too, who look around the beach with hawk-like eyes for plastics of single-use. Vendor who use plastic bags are frowned upon while those who bring their own cloth bags are welcomed with a smile. If you care to look beyond the walking gear, you may sometimes spot a politician, an activist or an actor here. Youngsters play football and volleyball on the beach, with some practicing silambattam too. Volunteers from Nizhal drop by occasionally to see how well their saplings are faring. Well-meaning patrons with hearts of gold have donated resting benches for the weary and old who visit the beach. There is also a cobblestone path in the shape of the number eight, meant to improve your balance and gait when you walk barefoot upon it. You even see people practicing yoga on the beach. If you’re lucky, you may chance upon a pre-wedding shoot, with the bridegroom clowning around and the rest fussing over the bride’s billowing gown. On weekends, good Samaritans descend upon the beach in hordes, undertaking a slew of CSR initiatives to clean up the shore. Then you have the man who feeds biscuits to the stray dogs and birds, the woman on her Scooty who fills every parched urn and the good-hearted couple who scatter seeds for the birds. At times you spot a solemn group walking into the sea, holding back their tears; the requiem ‘From earth to earth’ quietly rings in your ears when you see them.

The T-junction with the New Beach Road is where the Tricolour is hoisted on national days. Pongal is celebrated here like a carnival. The T-junction is the Speakers’ Corner; it served as the pulpit when jallikattu unleashed Dravidian pride. With so many activities, the beach may sound a crowded spot, but Mother Nature’s lap is wide and can take in her lot. Sadly, cement and concrete have inched closer to the shore over the years. My family often suggests shifting to a better locality, to an address with a Manhattan-like fame. But why would I ever leave this Eden in our midst?

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