The residential population of Kodambakkam zone has been consistently edged out by businesses such as textile and jewellery showrooms on the arterial roads, resulting in a host of problems for the residents.
While the interior areas remain thickly populated residential localities, main roads such as Arcot Road, Usman Road and Thiyagaraya Road with ever-increasing commercial structures have changed the profile of the zone.
A total of 5.6 lakh voters will elect 15 councillors for wards 127 to 142, which includes localities such as AVM Colony in Saligramam, Vadapalani, Chinmaya Nagar, Natesan Nagar and Jai Nagar in Virugambakkam, West Mambalam, T.Nagar, Rangarajapuram, Ashok Nagar, K.K. Nagar, MGR Nagar and Saidapet. Many of the wards were redrawn after some areas of the suburban local bodies were merged.
The Mayoral candidates of three major political parties are residents of the zone – M.Subramanian of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam; Saidai S. Doraisamy of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Saidai P. Ravi of Congress.
Although the zone has received much attention in the last five years in terms of infrastructure, such as acquiring the new flyovers on Usman Road, Jones Road, one arm of the Rangarajapuram flyover, work on Metro Rail and strengthening of the 40-year-old Kodambakkam bridge, the changes have not done much for the residential community or for business establishments in terms of decongesting traffic in the area.
“Through information gathered under the RTI Act we found that several buildings on Ranganathan Street do not have permission to construct more than one floor,” says P. Venugopal, an advocate and resident of ward 136. Unapproved constructions and influx of hundreds of employees of the multi-storey shops in the area have resulted in blocked sewage lines which, in turn, have led to contamination of groundwater in the residential areas of Rameswaram Road in T.Nagar, he complains.
Then there is the problem of garbage. Inability to solve the residents' problem has led to resident welfare associations fielding their own candidate for ward 136, which comprises over 70 streets.
Resident of ward 134 R. Sridharan lists a number of problems: non-functioning streetlights, overflowing garbage, rainwater stagnation, poor regulation of shops near the Kodambakkam railway station, lack of MTC bus connectivity and poor policing near Meenakshi College for Women on Arcot Road.
For the past six years, the Ashok Nagar Exnora Innovators Club's has been appealing to the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation to replace the 40-year-old cables supplying power to the Tamil Nadu Housing Board's LIG and MIG flats, says president T.R. Ramaswamy. Appeals to repair the toilets in the shopping complex behind the TNHB Colony have gone unaddressed, he adds.
After the expansion of Chennai Corporation, Virugambakkam, represented by six councillors, has been apportioned and moved to three different wards. The locality contends with overflowing garbage and the consequent mosquito menace, says S. Arumainathan, president of Virugambakkam Residents' Welfare Association.
One of the long pending demands is improving the facilities in the K.K. Nagar Peripheral Hospital. A.V. Venkatraman, member, advisory council of the Central Government Health Scheme, K.K. Nagar dispensary says a healthcare facility nearer home would address travel cost for indigent senior citizens.
While the residents of Saidapet, CIT Nagar and Kamaraj Colony are looking forward to the completion of the new building for Saidapet government hospital, others hope that electing a mayor from their zone would mean priority for their localities.