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Citizen Niveditha takes on officialdom

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Niveditha Murthy.
Niveditha Murthy.

Deepika Arwind

This young girl relentlessly writes letters hoping to make a difference

BANGALORE: Niveditha Murthy, a class eight student at the Army Public School, is used to writing letters. But the addressees are not other teens but mostly ministers in the State and Union Government, and civic officials, and her letters are about specific civic problems and hazards confronting citizens. Significantly, she continues to write these letters whether the previous missive made a “tangible difference” or not.

Her most recent letter written a week ago was to Minister for Energy K.S. Eshwarappa and Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) engineers.

“An electric pole outside my school had fallen on a tree and could have crashed anytime on to the pavement,” she told The Hindu. “Another pole had fallen down, and a third looked like it would fall in a few days’ time. All three posed a severe danger to the students of my school. If something happened to a student, compensation would be given to the family, and authorities would carry on as usual,” said the 13-year-old.

Worried that very young students would collide with the electric poles as they rushed out of the school gates, she brought the matter to her father Narasimha Murthy, who suggested she do what he had always encouraged her to do — write to the authorities concerned.

“Five days after writing to the Energy Minister, to the Assistant Engineer and Assistant Executive Engineer, the poles remained as they were,” says Mr. Murthy. “We wrote to a television channel, whose report led to a call from the office of the Chief Engineer at Bescom saying that they would rectify the problem,” he says. A day later the poles were taken down safely, and a written acknowledgement from Bescom followed suit.

School discussions

Niveditha says that her inspiration comes from various discussions in the sessions with the Children’s Movement for Civic Awareness (CMCA) at school, and her family that has always encouraged her to engage with her environment and, of course, protest.

“We should hold authorities responsible for their inaction,” she says. “We are, after all, taxpayers.”

Amongst her many letters was one to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) a few months ago demanding that Magrath Road be asphalted.

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