In his office inside a park in Ward 176, Councillor V Anandam sits with the residents and Assistant Engineer and makes plans on how he can be more accessible to people. “Let us put up your face and phone number on a flex board in different areas so that more people can reach out to you,” suggests a resident.
“Yes, that is a good idea,” he says. “After the rains, all the 400 plus streets in our ward will have a board with my phone number for them to reach me easily. This will invite the people of Ward 176 who have not contacted me to call me.”
“I am basically from the Sivaganga district. In 1998, I moved to Chennai. Fifteen years ago, I entered politics. In 2012, I became the District Youth Wing Joint Secretary of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), after an interview with the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu,” says Anandam on his entry into politics.
After climbing up the political ladder, he was elected the Councillor for Ward 176. This is his first stint as an elected representative.
Ward No 176
- Name of Councillor: V Anandam
- Party: DMK
- Age: 47
- Educational Qualification: B.A
- Contact: 9962766635 / 9444144806
Primary goals for Ward 176
What are your immediate targets for Ward 176?
Until last year EB Colony, Radha Nagar, Vel Nagar, Brindavan Nagar, and AGS Colony, among other places used to be highly prone to flooding. This caused a lot of distress to the residents in the ward. We want to set this right by bringing proper stormwater drain structures into these areas. The SWD work is mostly over, except for interlinkages in some parts.
Also, I want to ensure all the electrical wires in our ward go under the ground. Older buildings have EB wires on the ground level. A conservancy worker died due to touching a high-tension cable while clearing garbage in Venkateswara Nagar.
With many houses cropping up in Ward 176, the sewage generated is more. I want to make sure the sewer capacity is increased, so there is no overflow or mixing with stormwater drain lines.
How do you interact with the residents of Ward 176? How can people in the ward contact you to convey any issues?
Many residents have my number. So, they call me to share their grievances. Apart from that, I also go personally to their areas to attend to their issues. People also come to the ward office to meet me.
Also, we have a WhatsApp group with residents where they can message me about the issues in their localities. I respond to calls and messages as promptly as possible.
Issues in Ward 176
Many residents in the interior parts of Ward 176 find it hard to go to the 100 feet Bypass Road, because of no direct access. This has also led to traffic on some roads. What plans do you have in mind to set that right?
Yes, there is traffic in MGR Nagar 2nd Street and Venkateswara Nagar 3rd Main Road because people have to go in maze-like ways to reach the main 100 feet Bypass Road.
There is land owned by the government that cuts across the narrow streets. We are trying to get that land to make a road so that there is direct access to the main road. It will benefit more than 1.5 lakhs of people and also reduce traffic on narrower roads. School-going children and office-goers need not worry then.
How is Ward 176 prepared to handle the northeast monsoon?
90% of the stormwater drain work is over, except for some interlinkages that need to be done. Many residents of the ward woke up to minimal inundation post rains in the first week of November.
Also, brick stormwater drains are yet to be relaid with reinforced cement concrete (RCC) in the area. I am following up with the civic body for that work. Apart from this, we are also getting pumps to clear water inundation, in areas which see very heavy rains and where there is no interlinkage of stormwater drains.
So, I would say that the ward is more or less rain-ready this year.
Vision for Chennai and Ward 176
What is your vision for Chennai as a city?
I want to see Chennai green and lush. We should bring about more Miyawaki forests in open lands. This will improve tree cover, at the same time regulate rising temperatures in Chennai.
The city should also have more parks. This will bring people from different walks of life into a community space, at the same time improving their health.
Now that Area Sabhas are going to be held in January 2023, what do you hope to achieve through them?
It would be a platform to maintain a stronger relationship with residents. Moreover, I hope it will streamline suggestions and grievances from the grassroots to the Chennai Corporation, paving way for faster and more effective action.
Moreover, residents who have not participated much will be encouraged to share their ideas and grievances, which will develop a sense of ownership. This will strengthen grassroots democracy to a greater extent.
What is your vision for Ward 176? What do you hope to achieve as a councillor this term?
I want to see better waste segregation at the source in the ward. We have achieved more than 60% of segregation. With a little more nudge and motivation, I hope we will reach 100% soon.
Also, we are making efforts to maintain the parks in our ward better, with the help and cooperation of residents. I want to help set up more parks and greenery here.
I want to see public complaints reduce to almost nil. I want to be a bridge for conveying their problems to the respective officials promptly and ensuring they take action.
What the residents of Ward 176 say:
Saravanan, a resident and treasurer of Andal Nagar, says, “The councillor is very responsive. Even if he is busy, he calls back after seeing the missed call. He has followed up on stormwater drain work in many areas in the ward, and also helped lay roads in Andal Nagar.”
“He is on rounds frequently and listens to suggestions and grievances from people. For instance, we wanted to reduce the height of a ramp in an area. He immediately came to the spot and deputed workers to reduce the height as per the suggestion from the public,” shares DK Sivakumar, resident of Ward 176 and Vice President of AGS Colony RWA.