Councillor talk: Mambalam canal clean-up and improving roads the goals for Uma Anandan of Ward 134 – West Mambalam

BJP's Uma Anandan aims to fix flooding and improve roads in Ward 134 during her term as councillor.

Uma Anandan made the news for her controversial statement in support of Nathuram Godse in the run-up to the local body polls. She was elected from Ward 134 and is the lone councillor from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Chennai.

Her foray into politics has roots in early childhood, with her father being a member of the Indian National Congress (INC).”I remember the times of Indira Gandhi and the issues such as corruption and autocracy that plagued the INC being discussed in the extended family. There was a slowly eroding value to the party that became apparent to me”, she says.

“My generation woke up very late. My husband’s family members belong to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). I came to know about the RSS and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) through them and felt that I should have joined ABVP during my days as a student”, she says.

The turning point for her interest in politics was LK Advani’s rath yatra, a move that drew her towards politics. In the late 90s, she contacted the local BJP chapter and joined the party and was in-charge of the Mahila Morcha in central Chennai.

Ward No 134  

  • Name of Councillor: Uma Anandan
  • Party: BJP 
  • Age: 66
  • Educational Qualification: B.A
  • Contact: 9445467134
ward 134
Map of Ward 134. Source: Greater Chennai Corporation

Primary goals for Ward 134

What are your immediate targets for Ward 134?

One would be the flooding. Priority is mitigation as the ward has suffered very much and there’s panic among the people. Around 60%-70% of the flats on the ground floor are empty due to fear of floods. This physical and psychological impact that the floods have had on the residents, many of whom are senior citizens, has to be addressed. Efforts are being made to ensure that the residents are not too inconvenienced while the work on stormwater drains goes on.

The second goal would be to create job opportunities for the younger generation in my ward and prevent them from getting into anti-social activities. I would like to organise talks by inspirational figures and entrepreneurs to address the youth and the children on the opportunities available to them.

The Corporation school in the ward is good. I would like to help the school with better infrastructure. The children have high aspirations. The parents have requested English and Hindi classes for the students. Private schools have come forward to help with organising classes and a space for this activity.

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 a full-time office assistant and a register. We make note of the details of the residents and their grievances. I am available at the office during the day. I would like to say that the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) as a party has been very cooperative and responsive to my requests. There is no hostility and I am able to work and do justice to the voters. 

The “Ungal Mambalam App” has also been launched that can be downloaded from the Playstore. The app is for grievance redressal but also provides updates on events and what is happening in the ward. For example, there will be information on health camps and screenings taking place in the ward.

I am also sharing information on the Central Government schemes that the constituents are eligible for such as securing mudra loans.

Read more: Road accidents in Chennai and what can be done to prevent them

Issues in Ward 134

What is being done to improve the condition of roads in the ward?

I’ve compiled a list of roads which need to be improved and it has been approved. The work will begin on it.

The Mambalam Canal clean-up is also important as all other efforts will be futile if it isn’t desilted and cleaned. This has been raised in the council. This is an issue that will help not just Ward 134 but also the neighbouring wards. The flooding last year was due to the canal being choked by garbage and debris. 

Station Road with vendors has traffic issues and issues of congestion. There is no CCTV that covers the entire area and the police booth has also been defunct so those were issues that needed to be fixed. My local area funds cannot be used for this purpose but I’ve approached corporate CSR funds for this purpose. 

What are your thoughts on the privatisation of waste management in Ward 134? Where can the operations be improved?

We are lagging behind in source segregation and need to do more. People are aware of it but have to be more meticulous. The waste management has been privatised and the service provider has been functioning well. They are also responsive, when we give them a little nudge any issues get rectified. 

Waste management in other zones too can be privatised as I see we are able to hold these service providers accountable and they do not become complacent. 

Read more: Flooding in T Nagar raises a lot of questions for the smart city mission

Vision for Chennai and Ward 134

What is your vision for Chennai as a city? 

Fixing traffic snarls across the city so we do not end up in a situation similar to Bengaluru. 

Moving TASMAC shops near schools and places of worship away from them is an issue I’d like to take up. The one in my ward is near a temple and I will be meeting with the collector to ensure its relocation.

On the subject of greenery, we should be prudent enough to decide what is good in the long run and ensure we plant native species over exotic species. The trees in the ward being planted are not suitable and it has taken a long time to see a solution for this issue. The exotic species have done more harm to local homes and the permission for their felling must be fast-tracked.

The interconnection of rivers is important to ensure the city does not face water supply issues. The water bodies which are being encroached upon must be reclaimed. The city has not expanded in a planned manner.

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

I am confident that flood mitigation and rainwater harvesting can be completed in the ward.

Roads and bus services must be improved in the ward. I have been taking steps for it. 

The anganwadis and amma canteens in the ward are in very bad shape. My goal would be to improve them. More public toilets in the ward are also a necessity.

Before the end of my term if I can ensure good facilities for the children and senior citizens in the ward I would be very happy. 

I do not want to make any false promises on issues I can’t solve and I am upfront about them.

What the residents of Ward 134 say:

Kalaivani S, a homemaker and resident of the ward, says, “Flooding is the biggest issue in the ward. The rains have made us wary of living here. I see that work is going on in the ward and have seen the officials and councillor taking stock. I hope this issue will be solved soon”

Manickam T, a shopkeeper, says, “The bad roads and waste piling up are two problems across the ward that must be fixed. Even the smallest rain leads to new potholes. The waste management has improved but there are still spots where there is garbage piled up, if that is fixed the ward will also look cleaner.”

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