From building contractors and realtors to businessmen and full-time politicians the newly-elected Corporation Council comprises members with diverse backgrounds, offering a lot of promise.
The Council has at least 16 graduates including a former college lecturer, a 28-year-old MBA and a 38-year-old MA in political science. There are also a few councillors who are still in college, including a 23-year-old pursuing a master's degree in economics.
Residents, pinning their hopes on these councillors are eager to see them in action, bringing about a difference. “We wanted a change. Our municipality was not able to deliver the goods. Sea erosion is a major issue in our area. Something needs to be done about that. Roads have to be laid, streetlights don't burn and underground drainage is a necessity as untreated sewage is being let out into the sea,” says T. Joseph, a resident of Nettukuppam in Ward 1.
Residents well within the city say that they too have issues of uncleared garbage, lack of piped water supply and mosquitoes. Ali Khan of Sastri Nagar says: “This party has come to power after a gap. We have to wait and watch what this set of councillors will do for us. We did not see much improvement in our condition despite being within Corporation limits.”
Planning well is key say, experts.
“A ward-specific infrastructure and services plan needs to be evolved for each ward, especially in the extended areas. Work on road laying, underground sewer connections and storm water drains need to happen sequentially and in a coordinated fashion. Lessons have to be learnt from the many failings within the existing city area,” says P.T. Kesavan, a former Highways Chief Engineer.
M. Manikantan of VGP Selva Nagar in Velachery says that councillors would have to look at short term and long term plans for the city. “Our area has no garbage bins… we need at least one bin on this side.”
Talking about driving on the city's roads, June Dominic of K.K. Nagar says that though the police insist motorists should drive safely, people do not realise that the condition of roads in many areas is not up to the mark. With the north-east monsoon around the corner, residents like him are immediately looking for better management during the rains.
However, residents and councillors of wards in which DMK, Congress, VCK, PMK, DMDK and MDMK have won have raised the apprehension that they might get step-motherly treatment from the AIADMK dominated council.
DMK's Deva Jawahar Councillor of Ward 65 said he fears that the AIADMK might try and block implementation of development projects in his ward. “If that is the case, we will oppose and fight hard. We will however extend support for development projects and welfare schemes introduced by the AIADMK.”
Former civil servant and former AIADMK MP K. Malaisamy said that as far as major schemes were concerned there would be no partiality. “The officials would also be impartial. The new Mayor is well-informed and a good administrator. In such a scenario, residents of wards that have elected councillors other than the AIADMK would not have to worry.”
Mayor-elect Saidai S. Duraisamy says: “We are here to work for everyone, we will not differentiate between wards. The post of Mayor is for the entire city. The person holding office must not show any political bias.”
(With inputs from
Ajai Sreevatsan, Aloysius Xavier Lopez and Deepa H Ramakrishnan)