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Interesting battle puts Kolathur in limelight

K. Lakshmi

Problems of contaminated water and frequent sewage overflow persist

— Photo: V. Ganesan

PROMINENT FACILITY: The Perambur flyover, one of the major projects to be implemented in north Chennai in recent years, has eased traffic congestion.

CHENNAI: An interesting electoral battle awaits Kolathur, one of the new Assembly constituencies in Chennai. The locality has been in the limelight ever since the two prominent political parties announced their candidates — M. K. Stalin of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Saidai S.Duraisamy of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

Both Mr. Stalin and Mr. Duraisamy have one thing in common — they have not contested from any other constituency other than Thousand Lights and Saidapet respectively.

A total of 27 candidates, including 21 independents, are contesting in Kolathur.

Mr.Stalin was elected as MLA of Thousand Lights four times since 1984 when he first contested. Mr. Duraisamy, who was Saidapet MLA in 1984, has not contested the Assembly elections since 1996.

According to sources in the DMK, Kolathur contributed significantly to the victory of T. K. S. Elangovan, North Chennai Member of Parliament and hence the party has decided to field Mr.Stalin from there. Also many areas in the new Assembly constituency have been carved out of the erstwhile Purasawalkam constituency, which has been a bastion of DMK.

Mr. Duraisamy, who is busy with door-to-door canvassing, said “It was the decision of my party chief [AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa] that I should contest here. This place is not new to me as I have been involved in several social service activities. People also recognise me for my efforts and have assured to vote for me. I have promised to continue service through my charitable trust.”

With Mr.Stalin is busy campaigning across the State, his wife Durga Stalin has emerged as a star campaigner for him in Kolathur.

“I always accompanied him on election tours. This time, I decided to visit Kolathur whenever he was away. The response from residents, particularly women, has been encouraging. I accept petitions from people and representatives of residents' welfare associations on his behalf.”

K.Armstrong of Bahujan Samaj Party, who resigned as Chennai Corporation councillor of Division 53, which falls under the same constituency, to contest the election, is relying on the development works he implemented.

“I won the local body election with a margin of 2,400 votes. I reside here and know the people's woes,” he said.

The Kolathur constituency is made up of Chennai Corporation Divisions 50 to 54 and 62 of Chennai Corporation- Agaram (North) (Division 50), Chembium (51), Siruvallur (52), Nagamaniammaiyar Nagar (North) (53), Agaram (South) (54) and Kolathur (62). Of this, Kolathur is the biggest with nearly 70,000 voters.

The area is also known for ornamental fish farming.

According to sitting MLA of Purasawalkam V.S.Babu, the constituency has a major share of middle class households. Besides government employees and railway workers, it also has slum colonies spread across the six Divisions.

He termed implementation of two projects — Perambur flyover and Perambur Locoworks road overbridge — as major achievements.

Kolathur is known to be a flood-prone locality. While appreciating the efforts of the elected representatives for improving the stormwater drain network, residents complained that problems of contaminated water and frequent sewage overflow persisted. Kuppamma Paul, a resident of Siruvallur Main Road, said “We have given petitions about drinking water contamination in areas, including Foxen Street, to the candidates.”

Residents also wanted the work to construct SWD to be expedited. R. Savitha, a resident of Poompuhar Nagar, Kolathur, said only if the work was completed, the areas would benefit during rainy season. Measures must be taken to address the traffic congestion on Paper Mills Road.

Another complaint of the residents is that the free colour TV sets distributed by the government were not given to all of them. Many developing areas such as Venus Nagar and Thiruvalluvar Nagar are yet to be provided with amenities such as sewer connections. Replacing old sewer and water supply pipelines, sufficient electricity substations and speedy execution of the flyover project in Moolakadai are some of the residents' demands.

A.V.Surendran, a resident of Rajaji Nagar, said Rettai Eri, a waterbody nearby, must be desilted and freed of encroachments as this would be a groundwater recharge. A bus bay must be set up near the Villivakkam railway station. Interior areas must be connected with mini-bus service.

The total electorate in the constituency is 1.97 lakh. There are 99,186 males, 98,710 females and 27 others as per the final rolls published on January 10 this year. The number of polling booths is 195.

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