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Updated: July 9, 2013 12:28 IST
RIGHT TO WALK

Ex-colonel declares war on filth

Pushkal Shivam
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Colonel (retd.) Jason Peter
Special Arrangement Colonel (retd.) Jason Peter

After serving in the army for 25 years, Colonel (retd.) Jason Peter was confronted with a battle of another kind – the street outside his home in Anna Nagar was filthy, strewn with garbage. And so, the colonel, who couldn’t bear dirt, decided to wage a war against litter.

He armed himself with a broomstick and swept away the mess. Every morning, he would head out of his house on 9th Street, 12th Main Road, Anna Nagar and clear garbage. When the local Corporation conservancy worker arrived, the Colonel would assist him.

“We keep our houses clean. But we either encroach upon public space or dirty it. It’s as if this is in our DNA. Keeping streets clean is the Corporation’s responsibility, but we shouldn’t depend upon them completely. Once we act, they too will swing into action,” says Col. Peter, who always asks the local Corporation workers to keep the streets clean.

One year later, he says his neighbourhood is relatively cleaner.

The Colonel, who commanded a battalion in Kashmir and now works with Cognizant Technology Solutions, is also trying to mobilise senior citizens in the locality to extend his cleaning efforts to other streets as well.

A stickler for discipline and cleanliness, he is, by now, a recognized figure in the vicinity. “I made leaflets about keeping streets clean and got my children to distribute them among the neighbours. Many were indifferent, but some were interested,” he says. “The owners of big houses have encroached upon most of the pavements. But they don’t bother to keep the streets clean. People sometimes look at me and wonder why I’m doing this. But that does not stop me,” he says.

So what keeps him going? “I like to inspire and set an example,” he says.

Talk Back

We invite readers to participate in this campaign. You can email pictures of bad pavements (size not more than 1.5 MB) to myright@thehindu.co.in

Please send a picture of yourself.

In the email, please give your name, contact information, location of the pavement, description of the issue and action required.

Your pictures will be posted on www.facebook.com/chennaicentral and will also be considered for publication in the newspaper.

Website: http://thne.ws/mychennai

More In: Chennai | News

Thank You colonel. Proud of working with you in Cognizant.

Jai Hind.

from:  Ramesh Babu Muthuvel
Posted on: Jul 10, 2013 at 15:45 IST

well done colonel......you have always led from the front by setting
personal examples..proud of you.

from:  suresh
Posted on: Jul 10, 2013 at 14:11 IST

Peter sir, you are simply superb. Very nice and encouraging. Thanks to Hindu for bringing out such people to light.

from:  Niranjan
Posted on: Jul 10, 2013 at 00:29 IST

Thanks Colonel for your efforts. India is not a third world country anymore. It is a high tech country with money to spend and spare. People wrap themselves with expensive clothing and deck with jewelery beyond compare. They have cars galore, flat tvs , cell phones way more than what North America can boast of and yet if they can't understand the principles of cleanliness outside their homes, it is pitiable. It has to be taught, if it doesn't come with in. North America or other western world is not perfect either. But the proportion is much smaller. Awareness and education in this area is much needed in India.

from:  Cynthia
Posted on: Jul 9, 2013 at 22:14 IST

Superb!

from:  Allan
Posted on: Jul 9, 2013 at 14:32 IST

having known Col Peter for many years its only heartening to learn that he is out to ensure cleanliness in his area . I am sure more would step out of their cosy confines and strive for cleaner streets and surroundings. Thank you sir and family for the yeoman service.I am sure more in his area will join in . One may try using atleast the biodegradable waste for producing manure for home use with hardly any investment for wholesome veggies and healthy plants at home . Sir I do it in my house . No biodegradable waste gies out from my compound and it gets back to the little flower beds and flower pots I have

from:  G Venu
Posted on: Jul 9, 2013 at 14:21 IST

Good example set by Colonel Peter and hope many get inspired by his selfless example...! Yet, we need to address a fundamental and key issue here, which is the "responsibility of the Corporation, headed by the Mayor". What's the function of the Mayor..? - just to warmup his high chair in his office? Is he not responsible for keeping the city clean, amongst his many other "public shows" - is he just a show piece of the Corporation? Wonder how such irresponsible people get into such key positions and why...! Is there none to question him - not even the State Government - which only projects a very negative and inefficient working of it...! Afterall, people pay their taxes and have every right to demand a cleaner and healthier environment - devoid of which we can only cry "Oh the 'Dengu' has claimed yet another life"...!

from:  Krish Morelli
Posted on: Jul 9, 2013 at 13:39 IST

Saluting you Col Jason, amazing and very inspiring.

you are a trend setter for many to follow your footpath.

Kudos.

from:  Manickam Gopalakrishnan
Posted on: Jul 9, 2013 at 12:20 IST

I salute his drive to clean the street. Recently I was visiting Marina beach on a sunday. A day or two after the volunteers cleaned the beach. So I did not see any garbage until I reached the shore and there was no garbage cans. When I stepped into the water, my foot was washed by the water and garbage thrown by the people standing near by. There were 1000's of people near the shore. Most (from elderly to 5 year olds)of them eating and throwing the left overs, covers and water bottles. So it is not enough to clean the street but need to educate the public the need to collect the garbage in bags when they are outside and take it home. In US, when a person has travel sickness they always carry a bag, so they can vomit in these bags. And similarly when they take their pets for walking they do carry bags to clean, if the pet pooped. Unfortunately since city is not providing enough garbage cans everywhere-to save the planet for our future generation CARRY YOUR GARBAGE HOME.

from:  marudah
Posted on: Jul 9, 2013 at 12:12 IST

I admire Peter; I would love to join him if I were living in Chennai. I live in Calgary, Canada and it is very clean here. I am a Tamil and am very attached to Tamil Nadu. Thank you Peter. You are my hero.

from:  mano
Posted on: Jul 9, 2013 at 11:30 IST

As a nation we love to live in filth,it is part of the DNA, it is to do with parenting and selfish, indifferent attitude exhibited by elders specially age group beyond 40 (not a role model to even look at). Great Job colonel, i am sure you derive a joy out of this. I have seen foreigners in my locality cleaning the roads and removing plastic bags and paper strewn on the road and not a single indian doing it, they love to point a finger at the corporation.

from:  shankar
Posted on: Jul 9, 2013 at 11:23 IST

He sets a real good example.If all of us start cleaning our streets and help the corporation then we get better hygiene and this benefits us. Great going Colonel. Really you are an example

from:  Shanthi
Posted on: Jul 9, 2013 at 10:49 IST

Kudos to the Army Officer trying to set an example for other citizens to
take action for complete neatness of their neighborhood; Excellent idea;
our Corporation officials must bend their heads in shame; also Govt at
top level MUST ensure suitable action taken against the local authority
for NOT maintaining the roads and staff engaged warned and punished too!

from:  Rita Jaisingh
Posted on: Jul 9, 2013 at 09:22 IST

Kudos Col. Jason Peter. It is wonderful to hear about you in such light. Proud to have been your colleague at Cognizant Academy and at the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies (University of Madras)

from:  ramakrishnan ramani
Posted on: Jul 9, 2013 at 09:21 IST

A real hero,,,,!!hats off colonel,,,!!

from:  Dileepan Senthilkumar
Posted on: Jul 9, 2013 at 07:28 IST

People's mentality that the Govt should clean their neighborhood is a
bad attitude. Nothing wrong in keeping your neighborhood vicinity clean.
Clean neighborhoods help in property value appreciation. So if every
citizens do their part, India would become a very clean country.
Salutations to you, Colonel.

from:  Krishna S Bala
Posted on: Jul 9, 2013 at 06:04 IST

Hats off sir..!

from:  Rajkumar
Posted on: Jul 9, 2013 at 04:59 IST

Kudos to you Commander, the same situation happened to me in Tambaram.
One day some passerby threw a bag of garbage near my house in the
evening, by the next morning there was a huge pile of trash already! I
had to literally keep watch over people from throwing garbage near my
house and also had to place hand made placards warning against dumping
garbage. The worst part was, a large garbage bin was present for the
convenience of the residents right across the end of the street!
Indian people are seriously downright filthy, both in terms of
sanitation and attitude!

from:  Nandini
Posted on: Jul 9, 2013 at 02:59 IST

I am sure the Colonel would agree that killing enemy in the battle field is a far easier task than reforming the educated illiterates. I lived in Anna Nagar 13th Main Road for 15 years. I have had experience fighting with people about cleanliness that would otherwise be friendly and nice in every other aspect. It helps that the colonel has an earned reputation behind him that will help in people listening. When I did this 15 years ago, I was sympathized for what people perceived as my naivete in surviving in the society.

from:  Karthik
Posted on: Jul 9, 2013 at 02:53 IST
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