Chennai South cries for better infrastructure, steps to check land grab and rehabilitation of slum dwellers

After delimitation it is the perfect blend of the city’s old and new. Chennai South Lok Sabha constituency comprises Mylapore, T. Nagar and Saidapet, localities with the old world charm of erstwhile Madras and the swanky, fastest-growing residential areas in Velachery and Sholinganallur. Throw in Kollywood’s dream merchants living in areas in and around Virugambakkam, and the omnipresent urban slums — the potpourri is pretty evident.

Apart from the crowded, congested neighbourhoods of Mylapore and T. Nagar, both waiting to be relieved of traffic woes, the constituency houses the IT hub.

According to IT industry estimates, over two lakh of the workforce are residents here who could prove decisive here, if they all come out and vote.

The industry expects infrastructure support, a secure way of doing business, and cleaner, safer roads, says an insider.

“We are looking for an MP who will understand our needs and work with us,” he adds.

The same sentiment is echoed by others too.

“If there is a land grab in our area we need our MP to help us out. We need a hospital like the Government General Hospital here and hope the new MP will get one sanctioned here,” said Velayudham, a resident of Kannagi Nagar in Thoraipakkam.

“There has been a demand for housing rights from people living in areas such as Kallukuttai (Sholinganallur) and Soolai Pallam (Virugambakkam) among other places too, but the residents here are disappointed that there has been no positive response from the government,” explains A.Bakkiam of Communist Party of India (Marxist).

For the Sholinganallur and Velachery assembly segments, proximity to the IT hub has also meant rampant growth in housing infrastructure.

“Road and rail infrastructure have not developed to match the growth of housing in this area. The extension of the Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) is not happening at the desired pace and many areas in south Chennai are still to be connected to a rail network,” says R. Krishnan, a resident of Medavakkam.

The constituency also has some of the big housing projects for relocation of slum dwellers at Okkiyam Thoraipakkam (Kannagi Nagar), Semmancheri, and another is now coming up at Perumbakkam (Ezhil Nagar). Relocation from city’s river banks has been quite a task and residents here want the MP to show not just empathy but play an active role in rehabilitation.

The fishermen community hasn’t forgotten the promise to construct multi-storeyed tenements in the coastal areas that has long been shelved.

Like other city Lok Sabha constituencies, Chennai South has been a Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) stronghold- the party has won eight of the 15 elections so far.

The AIADMK wrested it from DMK in the 2009 LS polls. This time, with DMK having fielded T.K.S. Elangovan and the AIADMK, Dr. Jayavardan, son of the former Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker, D. Jayakumar, the stage is set for a big fight in this historically star constituency once other parties also pitch in for a slice of the pie.