“Last year, we were not able to celebrate Women’s Day in the Ward because it was too close to the election results. This year, we have planned to celebrate Women’s Day with the conservancy and sanitation workers in the Ward, along with other women,” says M Renuka, the Councillor of Ward 42.
“We are planning to create awareness about the rights of women,” she adds.
Renuka is a first-time Councillor. She joined the Communist Party of India (CPI) in 2018.
“I used to do field work for the party,” she says. “Then, in 2022, the party fielded me as a candidate for the local body election in Chennai.”
- Name of Councillor: M Renuka
- Party: CPI
- Age: 26
- Educational Qualification: B.E
- Contact: 9840774744 / 9445467042
Primary goals for Ward 42
What are your immediate targets for Ward 42?
I want to ensure the last-mile delivery of the State and Union Governments’ welfare schemes to the people, from senior citizens’ pensions to the benefits extended to pregnant women, including the pregnancy kit and financial assistance.
I also want to improve the schools in the Ward. We have asked the Mayor to consider Ward 42 for model schools.
We are also trying to set up a Community Hall in the Ward, with the help of the Member of Parliament of Chennai North Constituency.
How do people contact you to share their grievances and suggestions?
My house is in the Ward. So, people know my home and office address and phone number. They call or message me, even late into the night. Even though we have a WhatsApp group in the Ward, many residents prefer to talk via phone.
How have you found the experience of working with different civic and parastatal agencies in the city to be?
I think it has been difficult for them to work with us due to our constant following up on different issues. For example, we call the Assistant Engineer of the Metro Water Department every morning, either asking them for updates on complaints filed by residents or sharing complaints that have been received by my office. We also closely monitor work that is pending and urge their completion.
Read more: Waste segregation: The challenge Chennai must overcome
Issues in Ward 42
What are the major issues in Ward 42?
Solid waste management is a challenge in the Ward. Source segregation here has improved to 50%, after awareness initiatives but we have some way to go.
Additionally, the Ward does not have adequate sewerage and water supply infrastructure, and this problem looms large in the monsoon season. We have shared the list of the areas gravely affected due to insufficient water and sewage lines with the Metro Water Department for remedy.
After a year of working together, I would say that the coordination and cooperation we share with the officials have improved. If civic works are sped up, many issues in the Ward can be resolved.
How have you used your Ward Development Fund of Rs. 35 lakhs?
In some pockets, like Thilagar Nagar, we saw instances of alcohol and drug abuse among youth. A mandapam in Rettai Kuzhi Street became a den for these anti-social activities. So, we used a portion of the Ward Development Fund to install a public gym on the spot, aiming to reform the youngsters.
Another portion of the fund was used to refurbish two Anganwadis which were in need of repairs.
What is the status of the Tamil Nadu Urban Employment Scheme (TNUES) in your Ward?
For our Ward, only 10 workers have been allotted under TNUES. Now, 8 workers are working. They are currently desilting stormwater drains. However, we have asked GCC to allot other works apart from desilting, so that the workers can partake in different civic projects, including laying roads and maintenance of parks.
Ward Committees have been set up for all 200 Wards under GCC. However, there has been no reservation for minority groups. Have you ensured the representation of minority groups in your Ward Committee?
There is a woman among the Ward Committee members, apart from two members belonging to Scheduled Castes. We tried to approach persons with disabilities, but they were not willing to join. However, if minority representatives are willing to join in the future, we will include them in the Ward Committees.
The Ward Committee members are mostly from the working class. They are active residents who constantly reach out to me to solve the grievances in their neighbourhoods.
Read more: Tamil Nadu Budget: What is in the pipeline for Chennai?
Vision for Ward 42
Greater Chennai Corporation is going to release its budget for 2022-23. Do you have any suggestions for projects?
Zone 4 consists of a working-class population and they have been highly affected due to the traffic on the roads. Therefore, we have approached the Mayor to build a bridge to connect Wards 42 and 47. The proposal for a bridge in Ezhil Nagar has been approved and the work will start soon.
What is your vision for Ward 42?
Officials say that Ward 42 has improved compared to other areas in North Chennai. But I want the Ward to have the same opportunities, infrastructure and quality of life experienced by the people in South Chennai.
Singara Chennai 2.0 projects are happening across Chennai. But Zone 4 is yet to benefit from the projects. Of course, after we told the GCC to include Thiruvottiyur High Road in some of the projects, they have done so. However, we want to see our zone develop.
What the residents of Ward 42 say:
Gomathi, a resident of the Ward and a worker with the conservancy team, says, “Despite being pregnant, she [Councillor Renuka] carries out regular field visits and sees if the roads and public spaces are clean. If there is garbage dumped anywhere, she immediately notifies us.”
“For the Annual Day of the Corporation Primary School, we would like a shamiana tent to be arranged for us to conduct outdoor programmes,” says a Headmistress of a Corporation school.
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