Surrounded by arterial roads such as GNT Road and Jawaharlal Nehru Salai, Kolathur is now one of the preferred locations for people looking to settle down in the city. It is also among the keenly watched constituencies this election as DMK treasurer M.K. Stalin is one of the candidates vying to represent it in the Assembly.
The former Mayor of Chennai — who first contested from here in 2011 after the Assembly segment was carved out of Purasawalkam and Villivakkam — is up against the AIADMK’s J.C.D. Prabhakar, the current Villivakkam MLA. While it remains to be seen if the DMK scion will beat back the ruling party’s challenge like in 2011, when he defeated the current Chennai mayor Saidai Duraisamy, the constituency is gearing up for a tough battle.
Kolathur has undergone rapid development in the past few years with better transport facilities, new flyovers in Perambur and Moolakadai, and better interior roads. But residents note that some basic problems remain. In the end, candidates’ solutions to those infrastructural inadequacies may end up determining the outcome of the election here.
Though appreciative of the ongoing flyover project at Retteri junction, many residents point out that the proposal to widen the Paper Mills Road, which experiences traffic pile-ups even during non-peak hours, remains unsolved. They talk of the improved storm water drain network when asked about the successes of the past five years. Yet, some areas such as Jawahar Nagar and Srinivasa Nagar continue to be flood-prone, they say.
Jawahar Nagar, in fact, also suffers from water scarcity along with GKM Colony. Once synonymous with plentiful groundwater reserves and numerous water bodies, Kolathur now has only a few water bodies left. S.Thangaraj of GKM Colony recalls that the vast Vannankuttai and Muthumarimman temple tanks have got depleted due to encroachments.
Sewage overflow and garbage disposal are also among the other problems that the residents of Jawahar Nagar face.
What are the other demands that people here have? Plenty, it turns out. The School Road is a hub of ornamental fish trading and “people from other states visit the locality daily,” says Chennai Aquarium Development and Traders Association president B. Selvaraj. “Thus, it is important to widen School Road.”
Residents of Periyar Nagar and Srinivasa Nagar want more MTC buses to Egmore, T.Nagar and Thiruvanmiyur. While some, like N. Paramasivan of Periyar Nagar, are concerned about the decreasing tree cover, Muralikrishna of Srinivasa Nagar complains that the Red Hills Road between Villivakkam and Kolathur, has become very narrow.
In an attempt to address these grievances, Mr. Stalin has set up an exclusive helpline. Sources in the DMK say about 3,500 calls were received in the past one year alone, and most were regarding water and sewage problems.
While the DMK is banking on the various development works it has implemented, and its response to residents’ complaints to win the election, the AIADMK is planning to to highlight the government’s various welfare schemes.