Councillor talk: Improving roads and eradicating drugs are goals for Suganya E of Ward 109 – Choolaimedu

Interview with Councillors

Councillor of Ward 109 at her desk
Suganya has been a PCC member of the INC prior to election as councillor. Pic: Maya Karthikeyan

Suganya E served as a Pradesh Congress Committee Member of the Indian National Congress prior to being elected as councillor of Ward 109. Her ties to the party also involve her husband, who has been a member of the party for close to 25 years.

She balances home life, with two young children, and her interest in improving the facilities available to the residents of Ward 109. Her decision to contest stemmed from the Ward being earmarked for women.

She laid out her plans for the ward on waste management, improvement of roads and combatting drug addiction.

ward 109 map
Map of Ward 109. Source: OpenCity

Ward No 109  

  • Name of Councillor: Suganya Selvam
  • Party: INC 
  • Age: 44
  • Educational Qualification: B.A
  • Contact: 9445467109

Primary goals for Ward 109

What are your immediate targets for Ward 109?

There is an area called Namasivayapuram where there is a rampant issue of drugs and alcohol. Even very young children have been found to be addicted to these substances. We would like to organise extensive awareness drives and highlight the harm caused by drugs. I’d also like to help the youth there land on their feet by helping them secure admissions to higher education and secure good jobs.

On Vanniyar street and surrounding areas, there is an issue of frequent flooding. I’ve been conducting regular inspections in the area starting at 6.30 in the morning. The work on stormwater drains is ongoing.

I’ve been ensuring that a robotic excavator is being used in the Puliyur canal to remove any impediments to the free flow of water. After this, the work will move to Thiruvengadapuram canal. Hopefully, this would prevent flooding.

COVID relief is still being distributed in the area and I am also closely monitoring the situation with updates from the health department.

How do you interact with the constituents? What kind of outreach activities have you held so far and plan to do? How can people in the ward contact you? 

I also have all the relevant authorities of Greater Chennai Corporation, Chennai Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board and Tamil Nadu Electricity Board on a common makkal sevai whatsapp group where residents can raise any issues they find and that would be addressed.

I conduct daily rounds in the ward and am also available on the phone.

When I am in meetings or unable to attend calls, the issues raised on whatsapp will be conveyed by my office to the relevant helplines. I encourage the residents to click pictures of any civic issue they find and share them here. Each street is represented by two individuals and they raise the issues on behalf of the residents.


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Issues in Ward 173

What are your thoughts on the privatisation of waste management in Ward 173? Where can the operations be improved?

Waste management has been privatised here with Urbaser Sumeet. During my daily rounds, I inspect garbage collection in the ward. While the collection s largely smooth, there have been issues of those employed to collect waste sleeping on the job, using their phones, and not wearing safety gear or uniforms. I discourage such practices when I encounter them. I also speak for the workers when they face issues on the job.

There is an issue of construction debris dumping in the area. During my routine rounds, I point out the issues with garbage and debris and try to get them addressed immediately.

There are 119 streets and only 18 sweepers. That is an issue I would like to see addressed. Manpower has to be increased for efficiency and to reduce the load on the workers.

Authorities are also following up on other issues like tree trimming where they coordinate with Urbaser.

The incentive-based system followed by Urbaser will incentivise workers to function more efficiently, so privatisation works well.

Ward 109 councillor office
Residents are encouraged to visit the office of the councillor to resolve any grievances. Pic: Maya Karthikeyan

What are your plans for improving roads in the ward?

Roads that have not been fixed in many years will also be addressed. A proposal to revamp 18 roads with the creation of speed breakers, especially in school zones, has been shared with the authorities.

Road work that has not been carried out in five years is being prioritised.

How do you plan on tackling the issue of drugs in the ward?

I have taken this up as I see many young people losing their way using drugs. They do not have the right role models. They may not get the care and attention they need at home or the guidance to head down the right path. Many young children who are addicted to drugs originally learn about it from close family members who are also users and feel there is no harm in it. I will be working with the police to conduct awareness campaigns in the area.

I want to crack down on those selling these drugs to children. This is not an issue you find in high-income areas where people keep the dealers out. But in densely populated slum areas where children do not get attention, they fall prey to drugs.


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Vision for Chennai and Ward 173

What is your vision for Chennai as a city? 

If Singara Chennai 2.0 is executed well, it would really help the city. Right from tree planting, fixing parks and playfields, fountains and beautification efforts would really transform the city. These projects must be properly conceptualised and deployed.

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

I want to tackle the mosquito menace in the ward in the long term.

I would also like to ensure that barricades and handrails are created in all the canals in the ward. This would improve safety as many residents have been injured while walking along the canals. The construction of compound walls in Vanniyar Street and Thiruvengadapuram will also be prioritised. This would also prevent people from dumping waste into the canals.

What the residents of Ward 109 say:

M.B.Madan Kumar, Secretary of the Gill Nagar House Owners’ Welfare Association, said, “The immediate targets for the ward should be the pruning of overgrown trees and the relaying of broken roads that are long due. Garbage collection is an area that requires attention.” 

On being asked about the performance of the newly elected ward councillor, he said that she is approachable. Stating that she has promised to work on the roads and take action to solve the issue of flooding, he hoped that all of it materializes before the coming monsoons.

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About Maya Karthikeyan 9 Articles
Maya is a post graduate student of Development in Azim Premji University. A graduate of Psychology, she enjoys exploring the interrelationship between individual behaviour and social structures. She aspires to use this understanding in the development work that she would undertake.