Councillor N Adiyaman of Ward 105 in Arumbakkam started his political journey with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) decades ago. His father is also a member of the party. Adiyaman serves as a division organising secretary within the party and continues to hold the post after being elected councillor.
He believes that the vision of the state government in transforming Chennai would help bring huge changes to the city. At the same time, he is aware of the various civic issues faced by those in his ward ranging from flooding to waste management and is looking into solutions to address the same.
In an interview with Citizen Matters, he espouses faith in the policies of the DMK, which is in power in the State, and lays out his plans for the ward.
Ward No: 105
- Name of Councillor: N. Adiyaman
- Party: DMK
- Age: 59
- Educational qualification: B.Litt., B.G.L
- Contact: 9444129521
Primary goals for Ward 105
What are your immediate tasks/targets for the ward?
My first area of focus would be on finding a solution to the issue of flooding in Ward 105. Last November, we had unprecedented rains that caused severe flooding on more than 25% of the roads. In addition to the flooding, electricity was suspended for more than three days. This was because the water stood up to a height of three feet, submerging pillar boxes. Power had to be disconnected for the sake of safety.
Flooding is a recurrent problem, as is visible from last night’s rains for just two hours. While immediate action to tackle this situation has been taken, we need a permanent solution for this. That would require the expenditure of some crores. But I am positive that the government would look into it and do the necessary. Then central minister and present MP of Central Chennai, Dayanidhi Maran and the MLA of this constituency, MK Mohan, have visited the sites and are on the job. We have responsible people looking into this, so I am hopeful.
The second issue that I wish to tackle is that of ‘garbage menace’. While I have tried to change some processes after I have taken over as the councillor, the problem still persists as waste has not been removed systematically for a very long time. There are several associated issues. The conservancy workers have been accustomed to being inefficient; they work at only 30-40 % efficiency. This has to change. The residents also do not cooperate.
While everyone wants clean roads, no one wants the bins to be placed beside their houses. This, coupled with the lack of space for lorries that come to collect the garbage, has made things difficult.
We are attempting something new now – we want to remove all bins and implement full door-to-door collection. We are going to try this in some streets of Amaravathy Nagar as a pilot attempt. The response that we get from the residents would determine how we would go about further. I think the main advantage associated with the removal of bins is that waste can be segregated better. When people dump all the waste together without segregating, around 10 workers are assigned just for the segregation process. Residents should be considerate and segregate waste while disposing of their household waste.
How do you interact with the constituents? What kind of outreach activities have you held so far/plan to do? How can people of the ward contact you?
We have multiple Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) that are active here. Individuals represent their problems through these associations. I am in constant touch with these associations and try to rectify the issues that they raise. Even recently, the issue of drain water being mixed with the metro water was brought to notice. This was rectified by working with the Metro Water Department, which is doing a great job.
Apart from this, my contact number is made available, so people call me with regard to their specific individual problems as well.
Waste management in Ward 105
Waste management has been privatised in your zone and managed by Ramki Enviro Engineers. Corporation workers and those employed under the NULM have opposed this on account of losing their own jobs. What is your opinion about this?
It is quite useful to have private workers managing the waste here in Ward 105. Take construction work for instance. Those that construct buildings are responsible for disposing of the waste that they generate. But often, they are dumped at the end of roads. One cannot identify who does it, and they end up forming large heaps. It is useful to have these workers clearing and managing that.
I also see that workers from these waste management companies are much more efficient. Corporation workers are inefficient, working below their full capacity. Many of them are very old, and even continue to work past their age of retirement by providing a false age. Most of the workers are women, 80% of whom are unfit to work. They come and while away time without doing much work. The government is forced to accommodate them and continue to pay them salaries as they all belong to unions which would create a ruckus otherwise. The government provides them with everything from a good salary to safety gear like gloves and an apron. But none of them uses it.
Do you propose that waste management be privatised in all zones of Chennai?
Definitely. Privatising conservancy jobs is something I have been raising my voice for even in our corporation meetings. This would increase the overall efficiency of things. The difference is visible. Compare corporation workers with the private worker working in adjacent areas. The latter would be neatly clad in their uniforms. They also work for the full duration of their shifts.
Vision for Chennai and goals for his term
What is your vision for Chennai as a city?
The Government is fully willing to spend for the development of the city. New flyovers and subways are coming to counter traffic congestion. Machines are being bought to eradicate any form of manual scavenging. Stormwater drains are being worked on to solve the issues of flooding. New street lights are being installed, removing old ones. The government is definitely committed to transforming the city.
But what is important is the responsibility with which the people act. For instance, we have been urging people to segregate waste at source. But how many houses actually do it? People need to cooperate with the government. The government provides people with roads and electricity and everything. Although the taxpayer’s money facilitates all of this, it is not completely adequate. The government has to borrow from the World Bank and many other such organisations.
People demand things but do not act in a manner that helps the government. Public toilets are demanded, there is criticism when they are absent, but how many people use them responsibly once it is set up? Complete cooperation from the people is what we ask for.
Our CM is very focused in his vision of Singara Chennai 2.0. The officials and bureaucrats are also working to make this vision a reality. But this dream would be possible only if people join hands with us.
I believe that a punishment scheme should be introduced when this cooperation is absent. In countries like Singapore, people hesitate to drop even a used ticket because of the presence of these strict punishments. In our country, however, freedom is cited as a reason against this, and an excess of it is provided.
What do you hope to achieve in your term as a councillor?
I want areas to be divided into chunks and each worked on with complete focus for six months or so, such that there are no issues there for the next four years.
Street lights, roads, drainage, metro water, garbage, electricity, tax – all of it should be completely rectified. Progressively working our way through different areas like this would transform our entire city.
I also want to look into the problems that are specific to individuals, such as the absence of documents that can secure their properties, despite living in a place for many decades. Rectifying such problems would also be my focus.
What the residents of Ward 105 say
C.Thanikaivelu, former President of the ‘Jai Nagar Development Association’ stated that the most pressing issues that require action are the cleaning of stormwater drains and the desilting of canals. This, along with the creation of a proper system for the collection and removal of garbage, should be the key priority according to him.
Another founding member of the Resident Welfare Association in Jai Nagar, S. Ranganathan, said that potholes on all the link and arterial roads should be plugged before the onset of monsoons.
The residents said that speedy actions are being taken by the Ward Councilor. They find the MLA and Councillor to be responsive, with the latter addressing them in the Resident Welfare Association meetings. They also said that he visits various sites in person to address grievances, with the same being observed even during the recent rains that caused flooding in the area. They added that the arrangements that were made have led to water being drained in most streets now.