The central region of the Greater Chennai Corporation is diverse: it has Ayanavaram which is crying for basic amenities, semi-urban Ambattur that has been incorporated into the civic body only in 2011, Anna Nagar that has great connectivity but grave traffic woes, Kodambakkam, the trader hub and Teynampet, the commercial hotspot of the city.
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“Before charting out plans for these localities, it is important to understand their nature,” said P N Sridhar IAS, the Regional Deputy Commissioner of Chennai Central, as we caught up with him for an exclusive interview.
We see a huge disparity in terms of development in Chennai Central. There is T Nagar that is becoming a smart city and on the other hand, localities in Ayanavaram don’t even have proper roads. What efforts are being taken to uplift the underdeveloped areas?
Development projects have been planned across the five zones of Chennai Central. For example, we are building public facilities such as community halls and libraries in the unused OSR lands. We have identified the land in Ayanavaram and the work will commence soon. One such project has taken off at Mambalam recently.
But are these development projects focussed on low-income groups, which have a significance presence in areas like Ayanavaram?
Areas in Central Chennai got waterlogged during the recent rains. Have any measures been taken as part of monsoon preparedness?
We are constructing an integrated stormwater drain network across the city and a few pockets are yet to be connected. Clogged drains in the region were desilted at an expenditure of Rs 8.5 crore. Drains along flood-prone roads such as Besant Road, Greams Road and Arcot Road are being cleared periodically.
Sewage has been flowing into the Korattur Lake since the recent rains. What are your comments?
This has been a constant problem at Korattur. Effluent from the industries and sewage from households flow into Korattur through the inlets. All the inlets were blocked following multiple complaints from the residents. We had heavy spells of rain last week and to prevent inundation in Anna Nagar, the inlets to Korattur lake had to be opened. The inlets will be blocked again.
But blocking the inlets doesn’t seem to be an ideal solution…?
Yes, it is just a temporary move. A lot of localities do not have underground drainage connection and so sewage flows into the stormwater drains and the Korattur lake, eventually. It has to be resolved from this point. Metro Water department will be able to give a better picture on this.
Can a citizen inform the civic body or alert it about flood-prone roads?
Yes, we are collecting data to take precautionary measures. Citizens can call the Corporation’s 24*7 helpline launched during the recent rains to complain about water stagnation and flooding.
Call: 044-25384520, 044-25384530, 044-25384540
How does this helpline work? How soon can a caller expect his/her concern to be addressed?
The 24*7 helpline is manned by technicians round the clock who forward the calls to concerned departments and regions. The executive engineers and assistant engineers look into the matter and ensure positive action within a day or two.
Other civic and health complaints, other than flooding such as mosquito menace and battered roads, can be made by calling the Corporation’s toll-free number 1913. The same mechanism applies to redress of complaints made through 1913.
How has the response to Namma Chennai mobile application been in the region?
The mobile application has been quite helpful in connecting the public with the Corporation. Every day, we receive an average of 200 complaints about non-collection of garbage, damaged roads, water stagnation, encroachments, mosquito and stray animal menace. We attend to complaints every day. The awareness about the app is high as the number of complaints are only increasing. During the months of October and December, we usually receive a lot of complaints around tree-falling and water stagnation.
There has been an increase in the number of Dengue cases in Chennai. What measures are being taken?
The central region recorded a total of 32 cases in November, which is less than the South and North regions. Domestic Breeding Checkers (DBC workers) are continuously on the rounds, to ensure that there is no water stagnation in and around the residences. The cases are under control and we see a declining trend. The littered spaces between the blocks of slum clearance board tenements are the breeding centres of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. Our workers are clearing such spaces, as part of dengue preventive measures.
|Trivia: The fifteen zones of Chennai Corporation is divided into three regions: North (Zone 1 to 5), Central (Zone 6 to 10) and South (Zone 11 to 15).|
Local body polls are fast approaching, what is the plan for Central Chennai?
It is too early to talk about it, as it has not reached the purview of Chennai Corporation. Voter roll has been released and the revenue department is working on it currently.
Property tax revision has been rolled back. How much is the region losing? How does it work for those who already paid the revised tariff?
Yes, it has been a loss. We collected Rs 346 crore for 2019-20 from the region. I do not have the statistics for the last year, to compare it with. According to the Government Order, the excess amount will be adjusted in the next demand generated.
How successful is the zero waste goal at Central Chennai?
In the Central region, we could segregate only about 46 MT of waste per day around six months back. Through the creation of decentralised Micro Composting Centres (MCC) and Material Recovery Facilities and a lot of efforts on awareness generation, we have increased it to 180 MT of waste (segregated at source). We still have a long way to go, but we are moving in the right direction.
How many MCCs are present in the region? Is there a plan to have more?
We have 90 MCCs, with 363 MT capacity in Central Chennai region to compost wet waste. Only half the capacity of waste is being composted in the MCCs at present, as only less than 30 per cent of citizens segregate waste in the region. The goal is to increase the source segregation to meet the capacity of the MCCs.
How do you aim to get more citizens to segregate waste?
We are identifying five to six new streets every three weeks to regularise segregation. Volunteers are campaigning door-to-door to educate citizens.
Are the bulk waste generators in the region doing a god job of waste processing?
It is still in a nascent stage, as less than 10 per cent of them compost waste. The positive outcome, however, is that a few restaurants, apartments and vegetable stalls are sending segregated waste to MCCs.
Has the Corporation teamed up with Resident Welfare Association (RWA)s in this region? If yes, how?
There is an active interaction with the RWAs through regular meetings and also through social media. Through these platforms, we are able to address their grievances better. Potholes, damaged roads due to digging by mobile service providers and government departments are the most commonly raised grievances.