|City officials, as of September 2007|
|Deputy Mayor||R. Sathya Bama|
|Corporation Commissioner||Rajesh Lakhoni|
|Commissioner of Police||R.Sekar|
Chennai city is governed by the Corporation of Chennai, consisting of 155 councillors who represent 155 wards and are directly elected by the city's residents. From among themselves, the councillors elect a mayor and a deputy mayor who preside over about 10 standing committees. Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state, houses the state executive and legislative headquarters primarily in the Secretariat Buildings on the Fort St George campus but also in many other buildings scattered around the city. The Madras High Court, whose jurisdiction extends across Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, is the highest judicial authority in the state and is also in the city. Chennai has three parliamentary constituencies—Chennai North, Chennai Central and Chennai South—and elects 18 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) to the state legislature.
The metropolitan region of Chennai covers many suburbs that are part of Kanchipuram and Thiruvallur districts. The larger suburbs are governed by town municipalities, and the smaller ones are governed by town councils called panchayats. While the city covers an area of 174 km² (67 mi²), the metropolitan area is spread over 1,189 km² (458 mi²). The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) has drafted a Second Master Plan that aims to develop satellite townships around the city. Contiguous satellite towns include Mahabalipuram to the south, Chengalpattu and Maraimalai Nagar to the southwest, and Kanchipuram town, Sriperumpudur, Tiruvallur and Arakkonam to the west.
The Greater Chennai Police department, a division of the Tamil Nadu Police, is the law enforcement agency in the city. The city police force is headed by a commissioner of police, and administrative control rests with the Tamil Nadu Home Ministry. The department consists of 36 subdivisions with a total of 121 police stations, of which 15 are ISO 9001:2000 certified. The city's traffic is managed by the Chennai City Traffic Police (CCTP). The Metropolitan suburbs are policed by the Chennai Metropolitan Police, and outer district areas are policed by the Kanchipuram and Thiruvallur police departments.
The Corporation of Chennai and municipalities of the suburbs provide civic services. Garbage in most zones is handled by JBM Fanalca Environment Management, a private company, and by the Chennai Corporation in the other zones. Water supply and sewage treatment are handled by the Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewage Board, popularly referred to as Metro Water. Electricity is supplied by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board. The city's telephone service is provided by four landline companies: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), Tata Indicom, Reliance Communications and Bharti Airtel. There are six mobile phone companies: BSNL, Vodafone Essar, Bharti Airtel and Aircel, which offer GSM services, and Tata Indicom and Reliance Communications, which offer code division multiple access (CDMA) services. Broadband Internet access is provided by Sify, BSNL, Reliance Communications, Hathway, Bharti Airtel and Tata Indicom through cables or WiMAX.
Historically, Chennai has relied on annual monsoon rains to replenish water reservoirs, as no major rivers flow through the area. Steadily growing in population, the city has faced water supply shortages, and its ground water levels have been depleted. Many residents buy water for drinking as well as other daily uses. An earlier Veeranam Lake project failed to solve the city's water problems, but the New Veeranam project, which became operational in September 2004, has greatly reduced dependency on distant sources. In recent years, heavy and consistent monsoon rains and rainwater harvesting (RWH) by Chennai Metrowater at its Anna Nagar Rain Centre have significantly reduced water shortages. The Metrowater methods have become a model of RWH technology for other cities. Moreover, newer projects like the Telugu Ganga project that bring water from water-surplus rivers like the Krishna River in Andhra Pradesh have eased water shortages. The city is constructing sea water desalination plants to further increase the water supply.