With Tamil Nadu elections coming up, civic works gather steam in Chennai as years worth of citizen grievances

Elections, our festival of democracy, are around the corner in Tamil Nadu. A good indicator of election season of late has been the flurry of activity by the civic body across the city. Roads that citizens have complained about for years with no response get a facelift, potholes are fixed, pavements are laid and any and all grievance is addressed with a swiftness that makes one wish election season lasted longer.

Several infrastructure development projects which had been put on the back burner over the past five years will now be taken up on a war footing and completed in a very short period of time.

This is the time when citizens like us need to keep our eyes and ears open and ensure that the work being done is of good quality and will actually benefit citizens.

I would like to highlight a few examples from my neighbourhood, where all our unheeded complaints are being answered with a swiftness not seen before.

Milling of roads

I had been regularly writing to the local administration on this issue and pushing them to ensure that roads and streets across Perambur and elsewhere in the city are properly milled before they are resurfaced.

This issue is now seeing some action as Perambur High Road and BB Road have been taken up for milling among the several other arterial roads across Chennai. It’s a long overdue change.

Road milling underway in Perambur.

The milling of these roads at this time gives me the impression that a few well-timed complaints by citizens across the city could get the civic body to undertake similar actions in other parts. I urge fellow Chennaiites to be vigilant and ensure all the streets or roads are properly milled before they are resurfaced. The Madras High Court, too, is in agreement about the importance of this action.

New bus terminus

The compound wall, tarmacs and also the main building of the Perambur Bus Terminus has been in abysmal shape over the past several years. Residents from our neighbourhood had escalated the matter to various authorities and the issue was covered by print media some time in December 2019. Following our efforts, the leader of opposition promised to take up the responsibility of using his MLA funds to renovate the entire terminus at a cost of Rs 75 lakh.

The work is currently underway, a testament to how citizens can use their voices to push to action even those who are not in power.

Medians lost and found

grievance I have long had was the lack of proper road medians on Perambur High Road. Just as I was beginning to feel that the complaints have fallen on deaf ears, election season proved to be a blessing that has brought some action on the issue. The work to construct a permanent concrete median on Perambur High Road has been finally taken up and is nearing completion.

Road median work completed in Perambur. Pic: Raghukumar C

The purpose of sharing these success stories is to create some sense of awareness among the citizens that their concerns will definitely be heard, provided they are willing to contribute whatever little they can, to be a part of the change and pursue solutions doggedly.

Charter of demands

A more permanent answer to our civic woes could lie in the creation of a charter of demands by citizens to the prospective candidates in the upcoming assembly elections. The purpose of this charter is to put in place a mechanism to seek accountability and ensure delivery of quality infrastructure and services. We need to convey to politicians that we can no longer be remembered or taken seriously only during election season.

At a time when even our youngest children are tested at each level by several examinations, we have failed miserably to seek accountability when it comes to our elected representatives. This situation needs to change, and will, only if we are willing to make our voices heard at all times and there is no better time than now to seek this change.

This article was first published in Citizen Matters, a civic media website and is republished here with permission. (c) Oorvani Foundation/Open Media Initiative

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