A major crisis brought the Lakshmi Nagar association into existence. In the years that followed, it never shied away from challenges, writes T.S. Atul Swaminathan
In 1990, V. Rama Rao and a few other residents of Lakshmi Nagar, Nanganallur were served notices for failure to pay property taxes to what was then the Alandur Municipality. They had not paid the taxes to protest the poor civic amenities in Lakshmi Nagar.
With the authorities having issued them an ultimatum, they considered the options before them. There were only two: they could either fight the case in the High Court or form an association and submit petitions to the authorities concerned, including elected representatives.
Considering court cases generally being long-drawn, they settled for the second option and formed Lakshmi Nagar Civic Welfare Association.
Registered on July 7 1990, the Association, governing 18 streets, has grown into a 2,000-member body with 11 committee members. The founding members are V. Rama Rao, V. Narayanan, S. Choodamani, K. T. Narayanan, V. Venkat Raman, T.S. Krishnamoorthy, and Rama Subramanian. The Association made a successful demand to the Division Railway Manager (DRM) of Southern Railway to introduce a Turn Back EMU from Pallavaram to Beach during peak hours for commuters in and around Nanganallur.
“When Tamil Nadu was under President’s Rule in 1991, the Association submitted a petition to then Governor Bhishma Narain Singh for construction of Pazhavanthangal subway, storm water drains (SWDs), a government hospital and a library in Nanganallur,” says V. Rama Rao, adding that the interests of residents have never been ignored. The Association successfully fielded a resident-woman candidate, N. Rama Thilagam, for the post of councillor in 1996 and again in 2001 in the Alandur municipal council elections.
“Ours was the first (Association) in the city in 1997 to introduce the scheme of clearing garbage in trash bags. The practice is still followed today,” he adds.
The Association donated Rs. 10,000 towards Kargil War Fund. Under the Public Private Partnership, the residents’ forum ensured implementation of underground drainage system in 2000 and introduction of M45, a Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) bus route, between Anna Square and Nanganallur, had a traffic signal post installed near Hotel Trident opposite the airport pathway, distributed financial and other aids to fishermen and their families in the aftermath of the Tsunami, played a pivotal role in the reduction of drainage maintenance charge from Rs. 150 to somewhere between Rs. 60 and Rs. 120, based on the square feet of the house, ensured construction of new seven overhead tanks, pioneered in night patrolling, conducted surveys for better footpaths for pedestrians with Transparent Chennai, co-ordinated with Neer Exnora and Sabari Green Foundation to rejuvenate water bodies in and around Nanganallur and with Traffic and Transportation Forum for removing traffic bottlenecks.
(Downtown Cares is a column that invites resident welfare associations to talk about their neighbourhoods. These associations may write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 28576631, seeking a meeting)