Madhavaram, the new constituency abutting the city, is an amalgamation of urban middle class and rural population spread across local bodies of various grades. As many other suburban constituencies, Madhavaram also lags behind in terms of basic amenities.

Formed with select localities from neighbouring constituenciesTiruvottiyur, Ponneri and Villivakkam, Madhavaram comprises includes Madhavaram municipality, villages from Villivakkam Panchayat Union, Sholavaram Panchayat Union and Puzhal Panchayat Union.

Madhavaram, which lends its name to the constituency, is synonymous with milk and mangoes as it is a major supply point from where these commodities are sent to Chennai.

It houses the truck terminal, Puzhal prison and educational and research institutes, including Directorate of Research of Tamil Veterinary and Animal Sciences University. This constituency also comprises the two reservoirs in Red Hills and Cholavaram that supply water to Chennai.

The entertainment-starved constituency may soon get an ornamental garden with the foundation stone being laid recently. Though a blend of fast developing areas, residents of the Madhavaram municipality and neighbouring local bodies contend with lack of basic amenities be it drainage and piped water supply, adequate health posts, blacktopped roads or transport connectivity.

Solid waste management is in a sorry state throughout the constituency, both in the municipality and village panchayat limits. Residents like B.Jagan of Surapet, believe that the new identity would bring in development.

Comprehensive development of the localities will be a big challenge for the first elected representative from this constituency with 2.75 lakh voters. Of the total electorate, 1,39,884 are male, 1,35,658 are female and there are 36 others. The number of polling booths is 291.

Of the 13 contesting in the election, six are independent candidates. Noticeable among the contestants are V.Moorthy of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and N.S.Kanimozhi of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

While Mr.Moorthy has already seen one assembly election when he contested against Fisheries Minister K.P.P.Sami in Tiruvottiyur last time, Ms.Kanimozhi, a doctor by profession, is a debutant.

Mr.Moorthy considers that his roots in Madhavaram will help him win. “Many people are asking for old age pension, and civic amenities. I will fulfill their demands as I know their problems,” he said.

Ms.Kanimozhi's strength stems from her identity as grand daughter of N.V.Natarajan, one of the founding members of DMK and daughter of former union minister N.V.N.Somu. “I have worked in a trust hospital in Madhavaram and many of my patients recognise me during campaign. Politics is not new to me. I have grown up seeing my father campaign for election and working for people.”

The constituency has a large population of casual labourers working in rice mills, paddy fields or as lorry drivers. The mills also have a significant migrant population which does not benefit much from government schemes.

Literacy level in rural pockets is low. The migrant labourers' children in the age group of 8 to 13 have to be cajoled to attend school. Even the noon meal served is not an incentive, says S. Punitha, a teacher in a one-room school in Theerthamkaraipattu.

Though the residents benefit from monthly mobile health camps, they have not received the government's marriage assistance or gas cylinders. Even the free television sets have been erratically distributed, they say.

Despite living close to water bodies such as Red Hills, Rettai eri and Cholavaram, the residents contend with bore well water or water supplied through street taps from over head tanks. Only those who have money get piped water, says a shop-owner in Pammadhukulam village.

Many roads leading to villages off the Grand North Trunk Road are unpaved dirt tracks. As bus connectivity is poor, residents depend largely on share auto rickshaws.

In Red Hills, commuters battle the long queue of trucks transporting rice into the city. Vice president of Rice Mills Association N. Jayapalan says: “It is the gateway to Tamil Nadu from Andhra Pradesh and we supply water and rice to Chennai. The 160-acre Padianallur water body has not been de-silted and is heavily encroached. The government could develop it on the lines of Muttukadu. It will benefit around 100 villages and also recharge groundwater. There are currently 1,000 to 2,000 deep bore wells and we have no idea how much water has depleted.”

Mr. Jayapalan says through an RTI they found that the government had access to 100 acres. “We could be given 10 acres to develop a yard and the traffic congestion caused by parking trucks on the road can be avoided. We have approached the government but since most people here are illiterate the government has no interest in improving our lot,” he adds.


R. SujathaJune 28, 2012

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