Tackling the mosquito menace and cleaning up the city’s waterways ranked high on the list of demands of South Chennai voters, at an interaction with the candidates for the Parliamentary constituency here on Sunday.
At a meeting organised by Rajaji Centre for Public Affairs at P.S. Higher Secondary School in Mylapore, T.K.S. Elangovan, L. Ganesan and Jahir Hussain, candidates from Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Bharatiya Janata Party and Aam Aadmi Party respectively took questions from the audience. J. Jayavardan, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam candidate did not turn up despite being invited, the organisers said.
“There was a time when boats used to sail down Buckingham Canal and Mylapore residents used to purchase rice and other commodities from the merchants, but look at what has happened now,” said K. Sekar, a senior citizen, who sought to know what plans the politicians had to restore waterways. Mr. Ganesan said that with political will and determination, the waterways could be revived and restored.
Residents wanted the candidates to give direct and specific replies on why projects to clean up the city waterways had not succeeded. Mr. Elangovan said that Rs. 2,400 crore was proposed to be spent on cleaning up the Cooum between 1996 and 2001 when former South Chennai MP T.R. Baalu was a Union Minister.
“But after the change of government in Tamil Nadu, the project was shelved,” Mr. Elangovan said, prompting people to ask – ‘What happened to the money,’ to which he replied that the money was not sanctioned as the project was dropped. Mr. Elangovan also explained how the administration in the present government prevented him from implementing development works in his North Chennai constituency.
Mr. Hussain, in response to a specific question, said that corruption was the biggest handicap in the development of cities and the country, adding that he was meeting his campaign expenses with funds donated by supporters and well-wishers.
To another question on elected representatives receiving money from people constructing houses, or while waiting for plan sanction approvals, Mr. Elangovan said this had to be done away with.