Councillor talk: Fixing flooding and improving basic amenities the focus for Parithi ElamSurithi of Ward 99 – Anna Nagar

Parithi ElamSurithi, Councillor of Ward 99, outlines the key issues in the ward related to housing, sanitation, flooding and traffic and possible solutions.

Parithi ElamSurithi is the son of six-time MLA of Egmore Parithi Elamvazhuthi. While his late father fell out with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) after an association spanning three decades, Parithi ElamSurithi’s loyalties continued to rest with the party. He has been active as part of the DMK Youth Wing since 2009, holding various posts prior to his election as Councillor of Ward 99.

Despite being a first-time Councillor, he says his experience on the field in the past decade has held him in good stead. “Members of my party, right from the Chief Minister, are my inspiration for the work I do. I’ve learnt a lot from watching their work”, he says.

Citizen Matters spoke to him about his plans for Ward 99 and the challenges that lay ahead.

ward 99 map
Map of Ward 99. Source: OpenCity

Ward No 99  

  • Name of Councillor: Parithi ElamSurithi
  • Party: DMK
  • Age: 32
  • Educational Qualification: BCA; M.A; LLB
  • Contact: 9445467099

Primary goals for Ward 99

What are your immediate targets for Ward 99?

When newly added areas were merged with Chennai Corporation in 2011, Ward 99 was formed with parts of three different wards. As such, it has a huge population. While I will carry out my duties as a Councillor, I also have a larger vision for the residents of Ward 99.

The people of Thideer Nagar have lived here for five decades and one of my long-standing wishes is to be able to secure housing for the residents there by working with the relevant agencies and those who are already fighting for their cause.

Councillor of ward 99 at council meeting
Raising the issue of permanent in situ housing for residents of Thideer Nagar. Pic: Facebook/Parithi ElamSurithi

I would also like to spotlight and fix the dilapidated state of houses at the housing board behind KMC hospital and ensure that the homes are fixed. I would also like to put an end to the conflict between residents and the Police Quarters in Pullapuram by bringing down a barricade that has connotations of caste discrimination.

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? 

Each Councillor of the Greater Chennai Corporation is provided with an official number. I’ve created a Whatsapp group where the residents and various officials such as metro water, health and conservancy inspector. We monitor the group for any complaints or grievances raised by the residents and ensure that it is addressed at the earliest. Updates about inspections and the status of various works are also posted on the group.

Read more: Barricade in Pullapuram isolates residents in the heart of the city

Issues in Ward 99

What are your thoughts on the privatisation of waste management in Ward 99? Where can the operations be improved?

I am of the view that we need to find a balance between privatisation and ensuring the job security of the workers. We cannot compromise on the issue of livelihood while aiming for cleanliness. I would say we can explore such tasks being partly privatised and partly managed by the civic body. Workers could be assigned tasks or jobs based on their age and capacity to work.

While efforts are being made to enforce source segregation, it works better in high and middle-income areas. The message does not reach people in areas like Thideer Nagar. Special attention must be paid to areas which lack the infrastructure and the information for residents to carry out source segregation.

More importantly, dumping of debris in such areas that have seen some neglect must be prevented.

Flooding is an issue in Ward 99. What could be the solution for this? What is the action being taken at present?

At present, desilting of stormwater drains is taking place across Ward 99. Water stagnation has been identified and special focus is being paid to these areas. Thideer Nagar has a persistent issue of drainage being mixed with stormwater. This has led to constant flooding and people are being moved to temporary camps each monsoon. This is one of the areas where a permanent solution should be sought. An area behind Nehru Park and Boopathy Nagar also sees frequent flooding. Fixing these pain points in the Ward would help residents get through the monsoons.

Superficially, the city might look fine but these deeper issues must be addressed.

The levels of many roads in Shastri Nagar are well above that of houses, leading to flood water entering homes.

Ward 99 has many low-income areas, informal settlements and slums lacking basic facilities. What is being done to address this?

Ward 99 has the highest number of slums in this zone. Efforts are being made to address basic facilities that these areas may be lacking.

Areas where there is sewage stagnation are being addressed on priority. Fogging is also being carried out frequently to deal with mosquito menace and prevent diseases. Issues are being rectified when we receive complaints. Many of the issues have temporary fixes but we are looking for more permanent solutions, especially with regard to sanitation and hygiene.

I would like to work with the people, take cognisance of their issues and at the same time spread awareness about their responsibilities.

Read more: What is needed to make the Rs 500-crore Singara Chennai 2.0 a success

Vision for Chennai and Ward 99

What is your vision for Chennai as a city? 

From 2011 to 2021 the state was under the rule of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government. The city functioned without elected local representatives from 2016, for a period of six years. During this time, scant attention was paid to stormwater drains, desilting of canals and other infrastructure, resulting in frequent flooding in the city and the residents are suffering.

Fixing the issues of urban flooding without any flooding is something that is part of the vision of the Chief Minister. There will be a complete transformation and a lasting solution for the city if the plan is executed well.

Another issue I would like to see a solution for is the problem with growing vehicles and the problem of traffic. Traffic must be streamlined and provisions must be made for smooth flow and accessibility of roads.

Beautification of the city as part of Singara Chennai 2.0 will also help elevate the look of the city.

Pollution is another area that needs immediate attention, air pollution from vehicular emissions is a growing threat that affects the health of the residents. This is a problem I’d like to work towards.

To solve for parking, plans must be approved only with adequate parking. Even when we have such rules, it is being flouted. Steps must be taken to control the exponential growth of private vehicles in the city.

We must strengthen the regulatory framework that would prevent industries from flouting norms. We’ve been hearing about a gas leak in Manali since the time that I was young. Such persistent problems must be addressed to improve life in the city as Singara Chennai 2.0.

What do you hope to achieve in your term as councillor of Ward 99?

Relaying all roads that have not been relaid in the area in many years is a priority. Revamping existing shelters and creating new bus shelters is also one of my goals as there is good bus connectivity and arterial roads as part of the ward.

Ultimately, I would like to ensure that all basic facilities are accessible to all residents of the ward and lasting frameworks are created for the same. Regardless of where I am at the end of five years, residents would then feel that I have done a good job.

What the residents of Ward 99 say:

Shrikumar K, a resident of the ward and small business owner has high hopes for the councillor. “We have seen him try to address the issues of the ward as best as possible. It feels good to have someone raise issues on our behalf. Hopefully, there will be some positive change.”

Rajan M, a mechanic and resident of the ward raised the problem of water logging. ” It doesn’t matter how much rain we get, our areas still see so much water stagnation. People fall sick and houses get flooded. This must be the main issue that should be solved first as many residents suffer due to this.”

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