Residents took action after repeated requests to authorities went unheeded

A small hillock that, for nearly 30 years, served as a dumping ground in an East Tambaram locality is today a merry children’s park.

The patch of land that has undergone this transformation — without funds from the government or civic agencies — is on Buddhar Street in ward no. 17.

Residents are more than pleased at having reclaimed a piece of public property which otherwise, they feared, may have been misused by land sharks.

The piece of land, measuring about 3,325 square feet, is classified as ‘land ceiling’.

The residents of Buddhar Street and adjoining areas had repeatedly asked the municipal administration to put the land to good use but to no avail.

Residents said the situation reflected the apathy of government agencies and planners. “With rampant urbanisation and construction of highrises, public spaces are shrinking. The park on Buddhar Street will serve as lung space and benefit not just senior citizens and children of ward no. 17, but also those from neighbouring localities,” said B. Nagarajan, a pensioner.

Once the residents decided to get proactive, they joined hands with the elected representatives. The first task they undertook was to rid the spot of garbage. “We removed nearly 20 lorry loads of garbage and construction debris. We then built a compound wall, created a walkers’ pathway, installed play equipment for children and also sunk a deep borewell to provide drinking water to residents,” said V.R. Sivaraman, councillor of ward no. 17.

A sum of Rs. 7.8 lakh was spent on the park, Mr. Sivaraman said, adding the funds came from private sponsors, including a contribution from M. Karikalan, municipal chairman.

“It has become a habit for people to complain and criticise without taking any action. We succeeded in changing this attitude,” said V. Saraswathy, convenor of the local women’s self-help group in the locality.

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