It has a dominant slum population and has seen recent real estate development

Thiru.Vi.Ka Nagar Zone, with a dominant slum population and recent real estate development because of infrastructure projects, has many challenges in store for the 15 councillors to be elected for the next Chennai Corporation Council.

The zone covers wards 64 to 78 and has an electorate of 4.45 lakh. Female voters (2.23 lakh) outnumber male voters. The zone covers areas such as Choolai, Purasawalkam, Perambur, Pulianthope and Kolathur.

Officials of the Corporation point to the fact that many of the slums in the zone are socially more cohesive than those in other parts of the city and therefore it is easy to implement welfare schemes in the area.

The development works carried out by the outgoing Council have become election issues for some of the residents. “Residents in many wards in the Thiru.Vi.Ka Nagar Zone have requested to change the concrete roads laid by the Corporation as rainwater is not percolating down. They have concretised all roads in many areas,” said V.Sugumar, AIADMK candidate for Ward 73. He added that over 60 per cent of the voters in the Ward reside in slum areas where streets as narrow as four feet lead to localities with hundreds of houses.

The zone is one of the areas where inundation during monsoon is common. Wards such as 72, 73, 74, 75 and 76 are some of the areas with problems during rain. Many slums are affected during monsoon which would get addressed only after the commissioning of the massive project initiated by the civic body to construct stormwater drains and to strengthen waterways under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). The councillors elected from the areas would have a challenging task of coordinating with Storm Water Drain Department officials and get the work completed as scheduled.

S.Satish, a resident of Perambur, blamed the corporation councillors for being reluctant to speak to officials to construct speed breakers in many of the roads in their locality even after the request from residents following frequent road accidents. Corporation officials said that the police do not give permission for speed breakers in the zone because pick pockets and chain snatchers identify the spots near speed breakers to commit crimes when the vehicles slow down.

“Thiru.Vi.Ka.Nagar is among the zones with the highest number of new plan sanctions approved for new constructions. This is the only area that competes with Adyar and Velachery in terms of new plan sanctions. Lands where industrial units were located are being converted to residential apartments in the zone. This is expected to increase the load on sewer network, roads and ground water would get depleted,” said N.Mathavan, a town planning expert who has worked on disaster preparedness plan for the city.

Residents attribute the spurt in real estate activity to the construction of the Perambur Flyover and other infrastructure projects by various departments.

Mixing of sewage with drinking water continues to be a problem. The pollution due to the abattoir is likely to be reduced in Perambur after the commissioning of the modernised abattoir in a few months. The foundation was laid by former Deputy Chief Minister M.K.Stalin in 2009.

Power cuts

The zone is also affected by frequent disruption of power supply in many areas. “Streetlights are burning properly. But power supply in our houses gets disrupted frequently. This irritates us. We will depend on the councillors to represent the local problems to the departments concerned,” said P.Ramesh, one of the residents of Mangalapuram.

“The increase in construction of structures near the Perambur flyover has compounded the problem of construction debris in interior roads. This has to be addressed properly,” he said.

Conservancy

Tulasi Raj, a resident, said that the garbage collection is done only on the street corners. The conservancy has to improve in interior streets that are very narrow too. Corporation officials pointed to ‘bell conservancy' in congested areas that ended in failure a few years ago because of poor public patronage. Under this system of conservancy operations, meant for narrow streets, the personnel on tricycles with a bell go from door to door collecting garbage at a specified time.

The councillors in the zone have the task of mobilising public support for similar innovative schemes in congested areas for tackling such problems.

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Aloysius Xavier LopezJune 28, 2012