North Chennai has a mixed social profile

For years now, the bustle of north Chennai has a mixed presence of various economic groups, including the self-employed, traders, labourers and fishermen. For them and the many other residents of this Lok Sabha constituency, poorly-developed infrastructure is always part of their dialogue with politicians.

This Lok Sabha election, people in north Chennai are certainly demanding better infrastructure but more importantly, attention to their issues. The following Assembly segments – Thiruvottiyur, Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar, Perambur, Kolathur, Thiru.vi.ka Nagar and Royapuram – make up the Chennai North constituency.

Some of the problems that have been plaguing this constituency include pollution from industries, especially at the industrial belt of Manali, sea erosion from Nallathanni Odai to Ennore Thazhankuppam, traffic congestion and more recent woes of oil pipeline leakage, lack of metro rail connectivity and demand to convert Royapuram railway station into the city’s third rail terminal.

Mostly, it is the long pending and unresolved issues that irk residents of this constituency.

S. Jayachandran of North Chennai People Rights Federation, Royapuram, said candidates promise to make the existing Royapuram station into a terminal but never execute it.

With the sea eating into their villages, fishermen have been pressing the need for a permanent solution for years now. “Despite the groynes and seawalls, sea erosion still continues. Many of our villages have almost been washed out. We want the government to come up with a permanent solution as laying of groynes has stopped erosion in one village, but has affected the next one,” K. Bharathi, president of South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association said. New techniques should be looked into to prevent sea erosion, he added.

Fishermen demand provision of funds for development of Kasimedu fishing harbour, artificial coral reef for improving fish population and provision of diesel at subsidised price.

Pollution from industries, particularly chemical ones, has for long affected the daily lives of people here, especially at Manali. “Manali faces both air and water pollution. The smell of different kinds of chemical fills the area, making it difficult for us to breathe. The government should step in to reduce pollution here,” said P. Bhuvana, a resident.

When it comes to political preferences, north Chennai residents have literally swung different ways between the Assembly polls and LS elections. But the constituency remains a bastion of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) ever since trade union leader N.V.N. Somu trounced D. Pandian in 1996 when it comes to the general elections.

The ruling AIADMK has been a rear contestant in this constituency as in 1977 and 1980, with the burden of contesting the DMK’s pocket borough falling on the former's coalition partners. But this time, the AIADMK has directly jumped into the fray that alongside the other players could nuance the outcome in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.