Virugambakkam is a newly-formed constituency, but many that plague the locality are decades old.
For example, the first Chennai Master Plan, prepared in 1975, recommended the widening of one of the main link roads that runs across Virugambakkam, connecting Arcot Road and Koyambedu. But even today, Kaliamman Koil Salai remains a one-lane road that witnesses frequent traffic congestion and accidents.
To aggravate the problem, the locality's RTO was relocated to the road, which caters for heavy vehicle movement through the day, last year. For residents like Geeta Ramanan, who lives right opposite to the RTO, even taking her children to school in the morning is an arduous task.
DMK candidate K. Dhanasekaran admits that widening the road to an 80-foot four-lane corridor is a long-pending demand and says that there has been a “lack of political will” to take on encroachments on either side of the road.
Many of the constituencies' pressing problems such as basic sanitation, poor roads, and flooding during the monsoon mirror those in other localities that were once outlying suburbs, but have rapidly turned into high-density residential neighbourhoods in the last two decades.
Prior to the establishment of residential colonies, Virugambakkam was covered by farmland. It was first included in city limits in the 1970s.
The Virugambakkam constituency is made up of the following Chennai Corporation Divisions – Virugambakkam North (65), Virugambakkam South (128), Saligramam (129), Kodambakkam North (130) and Kodambakkam South (131).
Virugambakkam Residents' Welfare Association's President S. Arumainathan complains that the JNNURM canal widening project, which is the big-ticket scheme aimed at addressing the frequent issue of flooding, is not being carried out properly. “Dumping of waste into the canal is a major menace as it clogs the free flow of water. Due to haphazard waste collection, the practise still continues.”
Besides, only 25 per cent of the localities have stormwater drains, he says.
Other immediate requirements are a local central library, a community hall for self-help groups and an additional sewage treatment plant at Koyambedu “Sewage stagnation is recurrent in areas like Gandhi Nagar. Since it is a low-level area , a mini pumping station might be needed,” he adds.
But, over and above basic necessities, money power might matter a lot in the upcoming polls. Construction Workers Solidarity Inc., south Chennai president, C.Sengalvarayan says that Rs.500 has been given to each member of the local women self-help groups by the DMK. “They were promised Rs.2,000 a few months ago. We feel cheated. Besides, the lack of attention to Housing Board colonies will be a significant election issue among the poor,” he adds.
The total electorate of the constituency, as per the final rolls published on January 10, 2011, is 2,03,458. There are 1,03,167 men, 1,00,271 women, and 20 others. There are 227 polling booths in the constituency.
S. Vasanthi, artist and CPI(M) member:
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