Sunday, February 13, 2011

Now, a colony named after Coimbatore collector

COIMBATORE: Kalainagar Nagar, Kamraj Nagar, Anna Nagar, Periyar Salai the list seems endless. It is a very common trend in the state to name streets and residential colonies after political heavy weights and Dravidian ideologues. But naming an entire settlement after a district collector is almost unheard of anywhere in the state.

However, Coimbatore collector P Umanath might be the first bureaucrat to have a colony named after him as a group of people have named their residential area near Karumathampatty as Dr P Umanath Nagar. It is their own way of showing gratitude to the official for clearing all bureaucratic hurdles and granting them patta for a two acre patch of land worth Rs 4.5 crore.

"We knocked on every door for the deed but nobody listened to us. Only collector Aiyya ( P Umanath) showed the courtesy to listen to us and also grant us the deed without any delay," said R Palanichamy, resident of Veeralikkadu, Karumathampatti town panchayat.

Around 80 families, mostly dalits working as casual labourers in and around Coimbatore have been residing at the two acre patch of land for more than 30 years. Their relentless pursuit to secure pattas for their land hit bureaucratic and political dead ends until Coimbatore district collector P Umanath himself decided to step in. He issued an order during the last week of December to the divisional revenue officer of the zone to conduct a survey of the land and speed up the process of issuing pattas.

The residents have already erected a name board, Dr P Umanath Colony,' at their settlement and also invited him to their colony as their special guest on February 26. "It was our unanimous decision to name the colony after the collector," reiterates S Selvanayaki who has been living in the colony with her family for the last 27 years. "I have seen my father running from pillar-to-post to clear official formalities and I have been doing the same over the last few years. We are indebted to the collector and his team for granting us this land," said M Palani, a 24-year-old youth from the settlement.

However, Umanath humbly told the residents not to name the colony after him since he was just a government official doing his job. He also added that he clearly told a delegation of the residents who met him at his office on Monday that he would be happy to distribute the pattas but they should not name the colony after him. "I am just doing my job as a government servant. Their petition had merit and I responded in my official capacity as the collector of the district," said Umanath.

The pattas would be distributed on February 26 and the collector has also assured the construction of homes for 16 families living in thatched houses in the colony, under the Kalaingar's housing scheme. "Earlier the scope of the scheme was limited to rural areas but now town panchayats have also been brought under its purview," Umanath added.