Councillor Talk: Ensuring basic amenities the focus of Sherly Thomas in Ward 187 – Madipakkam

INTERVIEW WITH COUNCILLORS

J Sherly Thomas, Councillor of Ward 187 in Chennai
J Sherly Thomas, Councillor of Ward 187 in Chennai, wants to resolve the issue of a graveyard in Madipakkam among other issues. Pic Courtesy: J Sherly Thomas.

“The work for metro water and drainage connections are underway and we will make sure the residents get all the basic amenities,” says J Sherly Thomas, Councillor of Ward 187 in Chennai. Areas that come under Ward 187 include Palaya Garden, Thilagar Avenue, Karthikeyapuram, Senthuram Colony, Iyyappan Nagar, Madipakkam Bus stand, New Guberan Nagar, Deivanai Nagar and Bajanai Koil Street. The areas in Ward 187 were added to the Greater Chennai Corporation limit in 2011. Yet, they remain without any basic amenities to date.

Hailing from a family that is closely associated with politics, Sherly says, “My husband has been working with Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) for the past 35 years. My political journey began with my husband’s involvement in politics.”

Ward 187

  • Name of Councillor: J Sherly Thomas
  • Party: Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)
  • Age: 56
  • Educational Qualification: XII
  • Contact: 9445467187 / 9841505005
Map of Ward 187. Source: Greater Chennai Corporation

Read more: Madipakkam: Where roads disappear after a few spells of rain


Primary goals for Ward 187

As the Councillor Ward 187 in Chennai, what have you been able to achieve in the past year?

We have constructed an open gym for women near Madipakkam Lake. It was opened for public use in 2023. We have also renovated the children’s park in Senthuram Colony. Madipakkam Lake is the biggest gift for the locality. While the area MLA has already done the desilting work in the Lake, I brought in lighting facilities along the walkway around the. The lamp posts along the walkway will be functional from 6 pm to 6 am. There are also plans to bring boating facilities to Madipakkam Lake. This will also help in generating revenue for the GCC.

How do you interact with the constituents of Ward 187 in Chennai? What kind of outreach activities have you held so far?

J Sherly Thomas, Councillor of Ward 187 in Chennai
Sherly says that she regularly inspects the civic works in her locality. Pic Courtesy: J Sherly Thomas.

All the residents in Ward 187 have my contact number. They reach me directly to address any grievances. Apart from this, I also visit the localities on alternate days and carry out field inspections. I interact with the residents and share my number during such visits.

Issues in Ward 187 in Chennai

What are the major issues in Ward 187 in Chennai? What kind of measures have you taken for this?

There is a graveyard on Bazar Road near the Madipakkam Lake that has been used by the local residents for over 150 years. Recently, an individual claimed the graveyard land by getting a patta for it. After we intervened, the Greater Chennai Corporation officials locked the graveyard and took it under their control. Since this is the main graveyard for the local residents, they have been struggling to find alternatives. I have been trying to coordinate with the officials to bring it back to public use. I would consider it a huge success if the government permits the land for the public use of burial/cremation.

One of the major complaints from the residents of Ward 187 is the unplanned civic work and poor road conditions. How are you planning to address this?

The areas in Ward 187 of Chennai were added to the GCC limit in 2011. The work for metro water and underground drainage connections is underway in these areas. Often, the workers have to dig the roads to carry out this work. Once the work is done, the roads are being relaid.

If the public feels any inconvenience during the work, we immediately intervene and put a halt to the work. The civic work is carried out completely under our supervision and we are making sure there is no inconvenience for the public.

How have you used your Ward Development Fund of Rs 35 lakhs?

The office allocated for me is very small. Since the tax collection centre is also in the same building, there is not enough space for the Councillor’s office. There is an idea to use this year’s fund to build an office for the Councillor. Last year’s funds were utilised for constructing the open gym for women near Madipakkam Lake.


Read more: In a first in Chennai, residents share platform with civic officials in Area Sabha meetings


Vision for Ward 187 in Chennai

What do you hope to achieve in your term as Councillor?

The graveyard issue mentioned earlier is the major issue in Ward 187 now. I hope to resolve this issue and would consider it a huge success if I bring a solution to it by the end of my tenure as the Councillor. All other civic work is going on as per the plan.

What are your thoughts on women entering politics?

At present, women are treated with so much respect in this field. We are welcomed with respect into politics and I hope more women step in for this.

What is your vision for Chennai?

I hope the public commute will become much easier once the work for Phase II of the metro train is over. I also wish the schools in the GCC limit were upgraded to be on par with the facilities provided in private schools.

What the residents of Ward 187 say:

Karthikeyan, a resident of Madipakkam, says that the renovation of Madipakkam Lake has come as a huge boon to the locality. “Since there are proper walkways and lights, women also feel safe to walk there during the evenings. Besides, it feels good to get some fresh air and stay connected to nature,” he adds.

Prema, another resident, says that the problem in the Ward is the unplanned civic work. “It is a welcome move to get basic facilities like water and underground drainage connections. But, the problem here is that the local officials are carrying out this work in an unplanned manner. They are digging the roads in front of houses and shops without any prior notice. When it rains, these roads become unsafe to drive,” she notes.

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About Shobana Radhakrishnan 121 Articles
Shobana Radhakrishnan is a Senior Reporter at Citizen Matters. Before moving to Chennai in 2022, she reported for the national daily, The New Indian Express (TNIE), from Madurai. During her stint at TNIE, she did detailed ground reports on the plight of migrant workers and the sorry-state of public libraries in addition to covering the renowned Jallikattu, Tamil Nadu Assembly Elections (2021) and Rural Local Body Polls (2019-2020). Shobana has a Masters degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the Pondicherry Central University and a Bachelors in English Literature. She keenly follows the impact of development on vulnerable groups.