Water, sewage connections my priority: Ward 188 Councillor Sameena Selvam

This Councillor wants to be accessible to the residents of her ward and uses social media to find out about civic issues in localities here.

Sameena Selvam, a first-time Councillor represents Ward 188 of the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC). Getting into politics was not easy and she was expecting to navigate the space with the support of her late husband C Selvam. A DMK party worker, Selvam was killed in 2022. “After his death, I continued on his behalf,” she recalls. “Everyone assured me of their support, including the party and the MLA.”

Madipakkam ward stretches from Ram Nagar to Madipakkam. Once a small village panchayat, Madipakkam is now part of GCC and has become a bustling neighbourhood. This area has grappled with inundation during floods for many years. Another problem residents face is the bad condition of roads in the areas.

Sameena says her focus is on ensuring adequate water and sewage connections for the residents of her ward, implementing measures to prevent flooding, and promoting overall development.

Read more: Councillor Talk: Menaga Shankar of Ward 197 promises access to education and government services

Ward 188

Name of Councillor: Sameena Selvam

Age: 41

Party: DMK

Education: BA Sociology

Number: 9445467188 / 9884834463

Facebook: @c.s.sameena.selvam.ba.mc

ward 188
Ward 188 in Chennai constitutes areas like Madipakkam, Pallikaranai, Periyar Nagar, Raman Nagar and Rajaji Nagar. Pic: OpenCity

Primary goals for the ward

What are your primary achievements after taking over as Councillor?  

As someone new to this,  I’m just starting out, right? I am building a new ration shop using the councillor’s fund. There, I am planning to keep a small shop for the ‘Magalir Kuzhu’ (women’s self-help group) members so that they can work over there, and use their skills.

How do you interact with the people in your ward? 

Anyone can call me on my phone, as I’m always accessible to the residents. If there are complaints or any civic issues in a particular area, I go and visit the place, instead of calling the people to my office. Only then can I understand their concerns and their suffering.  

We have an official Facebook page for Ward 188 maintained by one of my team members. I regularly go through the account and check what issues people are talking about and comment on.  There are many concerns that we are dealing with at Ward 188, because big projects for underground drainage, stormwater drains and Metro Water connections, are ongoing throughout Madipakkam and Ram Nagar.

Water and sewage connections

What are the major issues in the ward and how have you addressed them? 

The work for the piped water connections was completed before the stormwater drains and the underground drainage. But when the drainage work started, the workers installing the drains did not know what those pipes were. They just dug it up, and took out those lines. Now, the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) is reworking the connection. 

For underground drainage, they dig up the middle of the road, affecting the water and street lights. When it’s the Metro Water, someone from the department needs to assess the situation. If it is an electricity problem, someone from the TNEB (Tamil Nadu Electricity Board) needs to come. Then, there are issues between the departments, and the work keeps stopping. 

First, I bring the residents’ concerns to the notice of the Area Engineer (AE). If no action is taken to address the grievances, I speak to the MLA, who then conducts meetings and comes to the spot directly. 

You mentioned using the Ward Development Fund of Rs 35 Lakhs for the ration shop. What other work have you taken up with this fund?

The ration shop was from my first year’s councillor fund. I’m building the ration shop because the current one, near the Madipakkam Bus Stand, is very old. It was not in a usable condition, so I thought I could fund the renovation.  

I haven’t yet planned how I will use this year’s fund, but I am thinking of building a library and a ladies’ gym.

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

Better roads and flood mitigation

ward 188
Interacting with residents of the area about civic issues. Pic: Sameena’s FB page.

The people found the dug-up roads to be the biggest problem, how are you handling that?

I emphasised my preference for cement roads over tar roads during the meeting with other councillors. I requested that contractors ensure the roads are usable and can be easily reworked. Specifically, I stressed that roads must be levelled after the installation of Metro Water pipes. This is crucial because the current mud roads are prone to washing away, leaving behind ditches.

Apart from building the stormwater drains, is there anything else you do to prevent flooding in the area?

There are two big canals here, which form a channel that runs to the Pallikaranai marshland. Every year, before the rains, the MLA makes sure that the canals are getting cleaned up and de-silted. Now, we have given this work to one of the contractors, and he will desilt the old drains as well. The water flows through the old drains, to the canals, and then to the marshland. 

During Cyclone Michuang in 2023, the flow of water reversed, the marshland filled up and the water inundated the homes. To prevent this from happening again, we have requested that the marshland needs to be extended and deepened. 

Accessible to all

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

I want to help people. My goal is to ensure that the government schemes and benefits are equally accessible to everyone, regardless of the party that they support. 

What is your vision for Chennai?

Wherever you go, you see a lot of garbage. We have to address this problem and see to it that people follow the rules about waste disposal. If everyone does their duty as a citizen, this will become a highly developed area. 

What advice do you have for women who want to enter politics?

They have to take it up as a challenge and move forward. When compared to men, women are more approachable. It will be easier for people to reach out to women. 

I never thought I would enter politics, but now I am handling such a large ward where people call me at all hours to help with their issues. I face some difficulties, but I just need to do my duty and go on.

Residents Speak:

To Tanuja SK, a young resident of Madipakkam, there is a very obvious problem in the neighbourhood — the bad condition of roads. “They dig up the roads so frequently, and they do not cover them up properly,” she says. “I understand that this is for our own development and our good, but the ditches that form in the ground become dangerous to drive on.” 

Also read:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

City Buzz: Bengaluru’s double-decker flyover | Green office buildings catching on… and more

In other news: AAP asks Centre for Rs 10,000 cr for Delhi infrastructure, Tier-1 cities leading in short-term blue-collar job opportunities.

South India's first double-deck flyover in Bengaluru South India's first double-decker flyover was inaugurated on July 17th in Bengaluru and is open for vehicular traffic. The 5.12 km signal-free flyover, built at a cost of Rs 449 crore, is located over the Central Silk Board junction that intersects the Outer Ring Road and Hosur Road, one of the busiest junctions battling traffic snarls. The double-deck consists of a Metro line on the upper deck while the lower deck is for vehicular traffic. Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar said it is a “historic” moment and the government might further build…

Similar Story

Kasturba Nagar programme led by residents’ group turns waste into soil

Members of ROKA have initiated a citizen-led waste management programme that encourages residents in the locality to segregate and compost.

Source segregation of waste was a relatively new phenomenon in Chennai six years ago. Today, awareness and support of the process have only grown, but not without tireless citizen-led efforts. The Residents of Kasturba Nagar Association (ROKA) started its waste segregation programme in 2019, and improved their system, taking lessons from a neighbourhood initiative in Bengaluru. Now, other neighbourhoods in Chennai seek advice from ROKA on how to set up their own waste segregation systems. ROKA launched the ‘We Segregate’ programme in October 2023. The goal is to provide the systems and technology necessary to segregate waste in Kasturba Nagar…