Area's commercial and institutional significance brings along with it more civic challenges
The civic challenges of the newly formed Royapuram Zone of Chennai Corporation, covering areas such as George Town, Royapuram, Egmore, Chintadripet and Chepauk, stem from its own commercial and institutional significance.
Candidates getting elected from the wards in the zone in the Corporation elections on October 17 have an uphill task of meeting the aspirations of the residents of an area where mercantile and industrial activity reign supreme.
Royapuram Zone, with wards 49 to 63, and 3.68 lakh voters, boasts some of the important landmarks of Chennai, including the Fort St.George, Chennai port, Central railway station, Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, Reserve Bank of India and the Madras High Court. There are 1.87 lakh male voters and 1.80 lakh female voters.
The civic challenges to the localities in the zone also cover a wide range on account of the commercial importance of the zone. It is the nucleus of the business hub of Chennai. Apart from providing civic amenities, the elected representatives also need to provide inputs for a strong disaster preparedness plan.
The Chennai Corporation in the last five years has focussed only on infrastructure projects such as the Stanley subway to provide connectivity between Government RSRM Hospital and Stanley Hospital for quick transit of patients but it has not taken initiatives to ease traffic congestion in the city's most important commercial neighbourhood which is also important, said K.Guru, a resident of Mint Street.
M.Munusamy, another resident of Mint Street, said that the corporation conservancy workers have become irregular in sweeping Mint Street and other important streets in the area in the past few weeks. “They used to come early in the morning to sweep the entire stretch a few months ago. Now no worker is to be seen,” said Mr.Munusamy.
Voters of the zone also stressed the need for collective efforts of all the councillors of the Royapuram Zone to solve problems pertaining to pollution, roads damaged by container lorry traffic, polluted beach and traffic congestion.
“Four days ago, a funeral procession was unable to reach the crematorium because of haphazard parking of container lorries in Surya Narayana Chetty Street. This created enormous hardship to residents,” said Ernest Paul, President of Royapuram Residents' Welfare Association.
“There should be an elevated corridor exclusively for heavy vehicles from Parrys Corner to Manali, Ennore or Tiruvottiyur to ease congestion in the Royapuram Zone. Encroachments on Ilaya Mudali Street could be removed for widening the road from Korukkupet to Manali. This would help ease congestion in Royapuram,” he said.
G.Shankar, a resident of George Town, said that there is a need for solving the power supply problems because of cable faults. “Even though Chennai Corporation is not responsible for glitches in power supply, residents may need councillors' support to sort out the issue in the coming days,” he said.
Residents also pointed to the fact that there are only a few playgrounds in the zone. Parks such as Anna Park were well maintained but similar facilities are very less in number in the zone. Land is being sought from the Anna Park for solving the water problem in the Royapuram locality by constructing a water tank.
The civic body officials said that they were unable to increase the area of playgrounds because of the inadequate land owned by Corporation because of the highly congested area.
“Many councillors in George Town area were unable to carry out works as there is very little land owned by the Corporation in the area,” said an official.
Chennai Schools needed
Need for more Chennai Schools in Wall Tax Road area for the weaker sections, improvement of stormwater drain on Prakasam Salai by removing encroachments and improvements of slums in the zone are some of the requests by residents.
Most of the conservancy workers of Chennai Corporation are from the Royapuram zone but the Chennai Corporation does not give priority to the task of garbage disposal in the zone, said R.Pratap Kumar, AIADMK candidate for ward 54.
“Water contamination continues to be a problem because of mixing of sewage with drinking water. Privatisation of garbage in some areas has affected residents. Sivagnanam Park has to be improved,” said Mr. Kumar.
“Royapuram Zone with the Central Business District of George Town has everything to meet the commercial needs of a modern city. It is the councillors who have to meet its civic needs,” he added.