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Voters wooed with identical promises

K. Lakshmi

The elevated corridor along the First Main Road is one of the few major projects being implemented in Ambattur constituency in the recent years.

CHENNAI: Residents of Ambattur are glad about their locality's new identity as an Assembly constituency. But, whether their civic issues will be addressed satisfactorily is a matter of concern for many.

Ambattur is one of the new constituencies carved out of the Villivakkam constituency. Known to be an industrial hub, it comprises only those areas that fall under the Ambattur Municipality. The new constituency has lost three of its 52 wards to the new Maduravoyal constituency.

There are 2.64 lakh voters in the constituency, which includes areas such as Padi, Korattur, Mannurpet, Oragadam and Mogappair. Majority of the voters belong to middle class and workers of the industries in and around the constituency. Ambattur's proximity to the city has made it a most sought after location by IT companies.

Two major projects- the Padi grade separator and the elevated corridor, which is a part of the Chennai bypass between Madhavaram and Tambaram, have contributed to the smoother flow of traffic. However, the tremendous growth in housing has been left unmatched in terms of infrastructure development.

The two main contestants are no strangers to the voters in the constituency. While B.Ranganathan, contesting from Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam is the sitting MLA of Villivakkam constituency comprising Ambattur, S.Vedachalam, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's candidate has been the municipality councillor twice, in 1980 and 2001.

Both the contestants are wooing the voters with similar electoral promises such as establishing Government Boys Higher Secondary School, provision of water supply and drainage facilities and arresting inundation. Of the 16 contesting in election, eight are independent candidates.

While the residents agree about the better facilities, including more greenery and blacktopped arterial roads, they complain that they continue to grapple with the same civic woes for over a decade despite several representations.

The inordinate delay in implementing underground drainage project and resolving the problem pertaining to Athipet dumping yard, which is running out of space, are the major problems that will stay on the minds of voters during the polls. Two big water bodies at Ambattur and Korattur, are heavily encroached and in dire need of rejuvenation.

Development of Water Canal Road, Korattur, which is being used by several residents, as a link road between Ambattur and Madhavaram is also a long pending demand. It would serve as a shorter route and reduce travel time and traffic.

Residents of Ambattur express hope that the formation of the new constituency would shift the attention of the elected representative on their locality. Mr.Ranganathan said he had contested four times in the assembly election at the erstwhile Purasawalkam constituency and once in Villivakkam. His confidence for victory stems from his work as an MLA.

“I am an easily accessible and know the area. I have spent Rs.4 crore from my local area development fund for better infrastructure in Ambattur. I have provided buildings for schools, noon meal centres and created parks,” he said.

Mr.Vedachalam's campaign is centred on the negligence of basic amenities by elected representatives and encroachments in water bodies. “I will take measures to remove the dumping yard at Athipet and strengthen the infrastructure such as roads and water supply,” he said.

The constituency also comprises the Ambattur Industrial Estate, which houses nearly 1,800 industrial units. R.Selvaraj, president of Ambattur Industrial Estate Manufacturers Association, said “We significantly contribute to the local body's revenue. As we do not have voting rights, many elected representatives do not pay enough attention. We want the elected representative to desilt the lakes and arrest inundation in the estate.”

The widening of Chennai Tiruvallur High Road, an arterial road connecting many western suburbs, is a long-pending issue and waits as a challenge for the next elected representative. Residents want the road over bridge on CTH Road near the Ambattur farmers' market to be widened.

K.Seshadrinathan, president of Ambattur Government Tax and Bill Payers Association, said that the first phase of underground drainage project was started a decade ago. But, household connections are yet to be provided. Similarly, many areas are still waiting to get piped water supply.

S.Praveena, a resident of Korattur, said many interior roads dug up for development works have not be re-laid and several areas lack adequate street illumination. Though the garbage clearance has been privatised in some areas, the problem of waste disposal persists.

Of the total electorate, 1,36,009 are male and 1,28,846 are female and there are 30 others.

The constituency has 267 polling booths.

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