Nallorvattam has been persuading residents of Kodambakkam to take ownership of their streets. Liffy Thomas pays a visit to study their enterprising model

Don’t be surprised if you see residents of Kodambakkam armed with broom sticks, dust pans, crowbars and other tools and clearing the litter on their streets on a Sunday morning. They are some of the eager members of the ‘Street Welfare Committee’ who have joined hands with non-profit organisation Nallorvattam to campaign for a litter-free street/neighbourhood.

Kuppaiatra Kodambakkam (garbage-free Kodambakkam) is a project initiated six months ago by M.A. Balasubramanian at Division 112 of the area, which comprises 180 streets. Inspired by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s ‘Vision 2020,’ Balasubramanian believes every street must identify a person who will responsible for its maintenance .

One of the first activities under the programme is street clean up. Next, a team is formed for the street to monitor garbage disposal by residents and supervise work of the conservancy staff. Like Pasumai, which has removed garbage bins on streets of Triplicane and opted for door-step collection of waste, here at Kodambakkam Nallorvattam is campaigning for the same.

“The progress is slow… the streets are only 80 per cent litter-free and there is a lot more we need to do to ensure corporation officials, conservancy staff and residents work together,” says Balasubramanian, a hotelier, who started Nallorvattam 12 years ago. He believes that poor follow-up and feedback can fold-up any good initiative.

This is were the street welfare committee plays a role. So far, 10 streets have shows interest in the project, where members meet once a week, chalk out programmes and discuss ways to make erring residents comply with waste disposal.

Response, however, has been mixed.

“Some times getting into an argument does not help, so we try convincing them to keep the waste till the tri-cycle arrives,” says K. Venkadesh, a software professional, whose street has done away with bins. G. Amarnath, a resident of Sivan Koil Street and a street welfare committee member, says he sits with members of his street every day to improvise on the initiatives.

Besides street cleaning, members of Nallorvattam liaise with corporation officials to take up issues concerning the neighbourhood such as completing storm water drain work, black topping of roads. The team has sketched a map of the Division to earmark good roads, roads that need some repair and badly damaged roads.

For now, Nallorvattam is working on doing away with trash bins in Kodambakkam in six months. Balasubramanian can be reached at 9791005771.


Pdfs of presentations made at Clean Chennai @ Home workshops in Adyar (Sep 7) and Nungambakkam (Sep 8)

Composting by Navneeth Raghavan

Garbage segregation by Navneeth Raghavan

Managing garbage effectively by Srinivas Krishnaswamy & Preethi Sukumaran

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