Subashini Durai, Councillor of Ward 173, is relatively new to politics. She is a Computer Science engineer by qualification. Her exposure to politics came through her father, who is a member of the Indian National Congress and has served as the District Secretary of the party.
Her key goals post the election have been fixing issues around stormwater drains and waste management in Ward 173.
We caught up with her at her office to speak about her long-term plans for the ward and her vision for Chennai.
Ward No 173
- Name of Councillor: Subashini Durai
- Party: INC
- Age: 32
- Educational qualification: B.E
- Contact: 9445467173
Primary goals for Ward 173
What are your three immediate targets for the ward?
Fixing stormwater drains has been very important. The area is adjoining B Canal. The drain that has been constructed 25 years ago is no longer fit for the purpose. Repairing this would prevent any issue with flooding when we get rains by the end of the year.
Streamlining waste management is also another focus. The work has been going on well so far but I step in whenever there are any issues.
Similarly, any issue with drainage and sewage and water supply is being taken up with the department concerned whenever any issues are raised with me by my constituents.
I would also like to improve the management of parks and playfields in Ward 173. The playgrounds need better maintenance.
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 have WhatsApp groups to keep abreast of the issues in the ward. I also interact with members of the many RWAs who bring their issues forth. The officials from various Greater Chennai Corporation departments or Tamil Nadu Electricity Board are part of these groups and they attend to these issues. Other than that, I visit those who live in slums and other areas without any RWAs by meeting with them twice a week.
My office is also open for anyone to walk and give their issue in writing and we will follow up on the same.
Read more: Ambitious budget for Chennai’s waste management but no coherent strategy
Issues in Ward 173
What are your thoughts on privatisation of waste management in Ward 173? Where can the operations be improved?
The ward has been under the management of Urbaser Sumeet. There are no temporary workers in my ward. Awareness about segregation at source is being spread by the contractor through the Battery Operated Vehicle (BOV) waste collectors. But the uptake in segregation has been slow. We will look at intensifying the awareness drive to ensure that the waste is segregated properly by the residents.
The overall management of waste in the ward has so far been satisfactory. We still have issues with how to reduce the mixed waste that goes into the bins. Large apartments and some commercial establishments and even some BOV drivers have been found to dump mixed waste in the bins. Tackling this is the next step in the process of perfecting the segregation of waste that goes out from this ward.
I would not bat for privatisation in areas where the management and waste segregation are taken up properly.
What are your thoughts on the traffic issues faced in the ward?
I find that the timings when people head to the office and schools coincide, increasing the number of vehicles on the road. We can maybe look into staggering start times to solve this.
Widening of roads and construction of more bridges is not a viable solution. Those who use a two-wheeler may switch to a car tomorrow and this takes up more space on the road. Even with wider roads, this would be an issue.
The connectivity of public transport in the area has been fairly decent. The frequency of buses is also good and the depot is a hub. The suburban rail connects only one side so that coverage could be expanded. The upcoming Metro rail project would also help improve the overall connectivity.
Read more: When parents are involved: What we saw in a Chennai government school
Vision for Chennai and Ward 173
What is your vision for Chennai as a city?
Fixing the issue of garbage is a huge issue I would like to see addressed city-wide. Construction debris must be tackled. Any kind of garbage dumping must see strict fines being imposed for such violators.
Improving schools is another key area. We should improve the quality of education in government schools. This would greatly help the future of the younger generation. This would also curb the menace of child marriage, which I have come across as an issue in the city.
Improving the safety of women in Chennai is also a goal. Awareness should also be spread among boys on the importance of respectful conduct towards women.
Another point is the prevention of flooding in the city.
What do you hope to achieve in your term as councillor?
I would like to see an improvement in transport connectivity by looking to expand MRTS coverage and Metro coverage in the area and would lobby for the same.
Cleanliness is also something I would like to pay attention to in Ward 173. Curbing the use of plastic and protecting the environment can be done through better waste management and improving awareness among the public.
What the residents of Ward 173 say:
Ezhil Arasu, a resident of Kesavaperumalpuram said “ We have had some improvement in cleanliness in the area. The workers turn up more often. Another main worry is flooding. We are dreading the rain. Work has been promised on the drainage system and we hope it will improve.
Kanchana S, a resident of Kamaraj Salai said, “Our RWA is involved in raising issues with the councillor. We have mainly raised civic issues so far and some have been resolved quickly. The segregation of waste is an ongoing issue. Many parts of the ward do not give segregated waste so it makes it harder for those who segregate properly.”