Deepa H. Ramakrishnan

Tiruvottiyur has many temples, villages, a lot of industries and yet there is no dearth of civic problems waiting to be addressed

CHENNAI: The Tiruvottiyur Municipality, part of Tiruvallur district, was one of the oldest habitations near Chennai. Home to the ancient Thyagaraja Swamy Udanurai Vadivudaiamman Temple, the Varadarajaperumal temple and the Samadhi of Pattinathar, it comprises three villages of Sathankadu, Tiruvottiyur and Eranavur and has around 10 fishing villages. It has over a hundred small, big and medium industrial units.

With hundreds of container trucks thundering down the two approach roads — Ennore Express way and Tiruvottiyur High Road — to this selection grade municipality, the roads are in a bad shape. Just beyond Eranavur Bridge, which is also in a bad shape, haphazardly parked container lorries on the Manali Express Road pose a problem to other road users.

“The roads have many potholes and traffic is a major problem. Since these two roads are high roads, there are no speed breakers and people residing on the sides find it very difficult. Many times container lorries stand in long queues from Sathyamurthi Nagar till Royapuram on the Ennore Express Way making it difficult for us,” said Ma.Ki. Ramanan of Bharathi Pasarai.

Though the municipality has handed over 11 acres of its land off the Manali Express Road to the Chennai Port Trust for use as a parking lot for the container lorries, not many of the vehicles use the facility. For its part, the municipality has constructed a compound wall and toilet facilities on the plot that can hold up to 600 lorries at a time. However, since the ground has not been concretised, the lorries are unable to use the place.

“During the monsoon we have problems of water-logging. The interior roads in many areas are mud roads. Drinking water too is a problem because the groundwater has been contaminated by the industrial units,” said V. Rajkumar, an advocate.

So far as underground drainage and drinking water facilities are concerned, of the 48 wards, nearly 30 wards have these facilities that were provided 30 years ago.

“We have now permission to implement a scheme for providing drinking water and the Central government has agreed to provide 50 per cent of the funds under the JNNURM Scheme. The rest of the Rs.87 crore we propose to raise through taxes. Work is on to lay underground drainage in the remaining wards too," said P. Jayaraman, chairman of Tiruvottiyur Municipality.

“We have spent Rs.4 crore on laying interior roads in 30 wards that were in a bad shape. We are waiting for sewage and drinking water projects to be completed in the remaining wards to lay the roads. We need more funds if we are to implement more projects. The CPI (M) has sought a larger share of the State’s tax revenues for municipalities," said Mr. Jayaraman.

The municipality with an area of 21.42 sq kms needs more funds if it is to provide better facilities to its tax payers.

Many companies have not paid up their taxes making it even more difficult for the local body, which is under-staffed and cash-starved.

Of the around Rs.13 crore annual budget, Rs.5 crore goes towards paying salaries, Rs.1.60 crore for electricity charges for street lights, Rs.80 lakh as rent for private lorries that supply drinking water, Rs.1.10 crore for the agency that clears garbage in the 19 wards where it has been privatised.