Chennai Councillor Talk: Infrastructure and health are my focus, says Kayalvizhi, Ward 179

Ensuring access to good roads, education and fighting pollution are major focus areas of Chennai's Ward 179 Councillor Kayalvizhi

A nurse-turned-politician, J Kayalvizhi, Councillor of Ward 179 in Chennai, studied nursing at Christian Medical College in Vellore. Until 2006, she worked with an MNC in Saudi Arabia. Since her return in 2006, she decided to take up social service to help people in need, especially in the field of education and health.

Her husband, Jayakumar, has been in politics for many years now and holds the position of divisional secretary of Ward 179 in DMK. When Ward 179 in Chennai was reserved for women, Kayalvizhi’s husband encouraged her to contest in the polls to channel her interest in social work to help people, through electoral politics. This is how Kayalvizhi’s political journey began.

Ward 179 in Chennai constitutes areas in Thiruvanmiyur and Besant Nagar. It has people from fishing communities as well as those from the creamy layer. “Catering to the needs of people from different walks of life is the trick and I have risen to that challenge,” she says.

Ward 179

  • Name of Councillor: J Kayalvizhi
  • Party: DMK
  • Age: 50
  • Educational Qualification: Nursing graduate
  • Contact: 9445467179 / 9003917090
Ward 179 map Chennai
Ward 179 in Chennai constitutes areas like Kalakshetra Colony, Sriram Nagar, Radhakrishnan Nagar, Nava Bharathi Colony and Kamarajar Nagar among other areas. Pic: Greater Chennai Corporation

Primary goals for Ward 179

What are your primary achievements after taking over as Councillor of Ward 179?

There is a road that connects Thiruvanmiyur Kuppam, a fishing hamlet, to the Kalakshetra road (near the Kalakshetra Foundation). For the past 70 years, this road has not been laid. From what I learnt, the residents of the fishing hamlet were restricted from using the road by the Kalakshetra Foundation. The public road, to which everyone including the people from the fishing hamlet has equal rights, was encroached on by the Kalakshetra Foundation.

A road in Kalakshetra Colony in Ward 179 of Chennai
The newly-laid road connects Thiruvanmiyur Kuppam, a fishing hamlet, to the Kalakshetra road (near the Kalakshetra Foundation). Pic courtesy: Kayalvizhi

When I became the councillor of ward 179 in Chennai, the residents put forth this as a demand. I took up the issue in the first council meeting and followed it through. I allocated my Ward Development Fund (WDF) to laying this road. Yet, there were many challenges. Finally, I got the court’s direction to lay this road and now it is laid and open to use for all the residents in my Ward 179. I would consider this as my achievement.

How do you interact with the constituents of your ward? What kind of outreach activities have you held so far?

I have created a WhatsApp group with over 600 members including the residents and officials from all grades and departments. This group serves as a public forum, where the residents can share their grievances and I will ensure the official concerned looks into the issue. This apart, I also gave an advertisement in the local newspaper to circulate both my official and personal number. The residents who wish to share their grievances directly with me, contact me through my personal number.


Read more: Councillor Talk: Chennai’s youngest Councillor Priyadharshini wants Ward 98 to be the best in education


Flood mitigation efforts in Ward 179

What are the major issues in Ward 179? What measures have you taken to address them?

Flooding is a major issue in Chennai’s ward 179, and one of the localities that always gets inundated every monsoon is Kamarajar Nagar. After I became the Councillor of this ward, I have been coordinating with all the concerned departments and taken steps to resolve the flooding issues in this area. A proposal for flood mitigation in Kamarajar Nagar has been approved. We will issue the work order in June after the model code of conduct is lifted.

Yet another major issue is the drainage. Many areas in Ward 179 of Chennai come in low-lying points like Lakshmipuram, Lakshmi Garden and Raja Srinivasapuram but there are no pumping stations. We have to depend on the pumping station in Indira Nagar pumping station. When the Indira Nagar pumping station is shut down, all the drainage overflows in the low-lying areas of Ward 179. I have requested a pumping station for Ward 179 and have met with the Chief Secretary regarding this too. Consultants are preparing by the consultants for this.

Bringing better road infrastructure

I am also working on a proposal for a road connecting Thiruvanmiyur Kuppam and Odai Kuppam to facilitate easy transportation for the fishers in these fishing hamlets.

During floods, we also figured out that the thermocol from the fish markets in the locality were causing blockages in several rainwater harvesting pits. From my interactions with the fishers, I learnt that they were using whatever material that they were able to afford. I spoke with Rotary International and arranged for Ice Boxes to store the fish for the roadside fishers and those in the market.

How have you used your Ward Development Fund of Rs 35 lakhs apart from the earlier mentioned road works?

For the past 30 years, the road in Valmiki Street has not been laid. The same was the case with the road in Pillaiyar Koil Street. I used my funds to lay the roads in these areas as well.

One of the key issues pointed out by the residents of Ward 179 in Chennai is the street dog menace. As a councillor of Ward 179, what have you done to address the issue?

This is a serious issue not only in Ward 179 but the whole of Chennai. However, we have taken up the issue with the veterinary department and are coordinating with them to address the issue.

A recent issue that came to light was the dumping of construction debris on the beach behind Arupadai Veedu Murugan Temple in Besant Nagar. This violates the provisions of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Area. What is the status of this complaint and what have you done to prevent such instances?

We do not know who is dumping the construction debris there. This issue has been going on even before I became the Councillor of Ward 179. The residents raised this complaint during the Area Sabha meeting. I coordinated with the corporation officials and they cleared the debris.

I have also asked the corporation officials to install some bollards to restrict heavy vehicle movement here. The official assured to do it but the elections were announced during this time. I have also asked the corporation officials to watch the CCTV cameras to find the vehicle number of the violators and ensure fines are levied on them. Boards with instructions like ‘Heavy vehicles are restricted here’ are also to be put up in the location soon.


Read more: Chennai floods and the real estate conundrum: Need for sustainable solutions


Vision for Ward 179

What do you hope to achieve in your term as Councillor?

My focus is to fulfil the needs of people who are yet to get access to basic infrastructure including access to road, water, health and education. Coordinating with an NGO, I have started Spoken English classes in the three corporation schools in Ward 179 of Chennai.

What is your vision for Chennai?

I wanted Chennai to have better access to healthcare and education. I also want Chennai to be a ‘Singara Chennai.’

What do you have to say to women who aspire to come into politics?

I would definitely encourage more women to come into politics. As long as we are doing the right work and working for the rights and well-being of the people, we women do not have to fear anything.

Problems of a growing ward

What the residents of Ward 179 in Chennai say:

S Radhakrishnan (Ranjit), resident and former President of Kalakshetra Colony Welfare Association says, “I find Kayalvizhi to be a people-friendly person who willingly addresses many of the people’s issues in Ward 179 of Chennai. However, I think she has some limitations as she does not have all the resources at her disposal to make her a more effective councillor.”

Speaking about the major problems in the locality, he says the population density has increased in the locality over the years but the civic amenities have not been upgraded to be on par with the increasing population.

“Construction works are going on everywhere but not all adhere to the norms, leading to safety and traffic issues. A couple of years ago, GCC laid tabletops on the roads in our area, not realising that when it rained these tabletops would create huge puddles on the road. This issue continues in our area. Several parks in our area are also not well-maintained,” he says.

The stray dog menace is also a big problem in this locality. There have been many instances in Ward 179 where several residents and children have been chased by stray dogs. Although, there haven’t been serious incidents of attacks by dogs, this issue needs immediate attention, he notes.

“During the last two monsoons, we faced flooding issues mainly because of the rampant construction work in the ward. Kayalvizhi was working on the ground and was constantly trying to get the corporation and metro water workers to address problems but it takes a long time to get anything done from GCC or metro board,” he adds.

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