Padmavathy Nagar is called the best colony in Virugambakkam. K. Sarumathi meets M. Jayaraman who has contributed hansomely to its development
Kamaraja Salai in Virugambakkam, which is dotted with huts on one side and scrap shops and paper marts on the other, leads one to a calm locality, which, barring a few problems, is quite possibly an ideal place to live in.
Among its many residents is one man who has contributed to the development of this locality. M. Jayaraman had no intentions of taking charge of the residents’ association or becoming a civic activist, but when he came to Padmavathy Nagar in 1994, he could not keep himself from working on the issues plaguing the neighbourhood.
“When I came to Padmavathy Nagar, the locality had no sewerage or Metro water connection. The residents association was also defunct. Working in a government department I had made some contacts and was able to get both connections for the area. Residents then asked me to revive the association and the position of president was thrust on me in 1996,” says Jayaraman, who has held the post ever since.
He makes sure the colony is always kept clean and is a safe place to live in. “We ensure daily collection of garbage. We had also tired source segregation and got two dustbins for separating waste, but those coming to collect waste took everything together. We then stopped the practice, but many residents now want it revived. Earlier, there used to lot of theft in the area, so we got two security guards stationed at the entrance of the colony. Now, it is quite a safe place to reside,” he adds.
A CCTV camera has also been sponsored by one of the residents.
Voltage drops is no longer an issue for Padmavathy Nagar. After repeated representation by Jayaraman, the electricity Board sanctioned an additions transformer for the colony and the work on it is in progress. The existing transformer has also been upgraded.
Jayaraman believes in making the lives of residents easy. They are saved the trouble of standing in long queues to pay property tax or collect forms, as Jayaraman either gets it for them or arranges officials to visit the colony. “We have a tax inspector coming and collecting property tax from residents. For clearing doubts about Aadhar cards I approached the Councillor and few days later a corporation official came and gave tokens and explained the procedure of acquiring the identity card. Information on applying and registering for voter id is also circulated.”
But every locality has its share of problems, and for Padmavathy Nagar its community hall has become the source of trouble. “The community hall was a pet project of the association and we got it after a prolonged fight, but today it has turned into a nuisance. The open space near the hall is being used for cooking during functions. The carters leave vegetable and meat waste behind and residents are left to bear the stench. Certain people use it as a public urinal and anti-social elements take shelter here at night,” says Jayaraman.
Residents also complain about the recurring sewerage overflow and Jayaraman is fighting for a permanent solution. “The main line on Kamaraja Salai gets blocked every now and then and Padmavathy Nagar suffers the fallout. Sewerage overflow is a recurrent problem and I have attended many open houses at the Metro water office but the issue is yet to be resolved,” he adds. Despite these issues, Padmavathy Nagar has received the title of best colony the Federation of Virugambakkam Residents’ Associations.