Downtown

Establishing connections

THE GO-TO PERSON:  Satish Galley’s family has been living in Semmancheri, IT Expressway, since 1929.  PHOTO: Special arrangement

THE GO-TO PERSON: Satish Galley’s family has been living in Semmancheri, IT Expressway, since 1929. PHOTO: Special arrangement

Visiting cards indicate where people live and what they do. Rarely do they reveal what they think about themselves, others and the world. Satish Galley’s is one of those rarer visiting cards.

It has figures of people, with the one placed centrally being connected individually to each of the others. Galley believes in making connections. That’s part of his job — he runs Galley Connects, which offers liaisoning services and eco tours. There is however a greater significance to the imagery. Galley wants to be reached by people with their problems, the mundane ones, those involving disruption in water and power supply, uncleared garbage and leaking sewage pipelines. In short, any civic problem.

He shows this writer the address book on his Samsung J7, which returns a long scroll of numbers when he types Electricity Board, Corporation and Metrowater. Galley enjoys being the connecting point between civic agencies and residents.

His strategy, he explains, involves working with these agencies to find solutions, presenting people’s problems to them in a manner that would ensure their speedy redressal.

“Where it involves specific civic problems that affect individuals or neighbourhood groups, I don’t write letters of complaint. I reserve such letters for major projects that I believe are not being planned or executed the way they should be. When it comes to addressing civic problems in neighbourhoods, the best approach is to pick up the phone and call the official concerned and, often, this is all it takes to have them sorted out,” he says.

For close to three decades, Galley has been interacting with civic officials and knows the bureaucratic structure like the back of his palm.

Galley explains, “In 1989, I joined Exnora International as a volunteer and continued as one till 2002. And then, M.B. Nirmal pulled me in as a full-timer and made me projects and administration manager, and I continued in this position till 2006. Nirmal used to call me the bulldozer of Exnora, for the way I would approach problems and have them solved.”

Though he may not be a fulltime civic activist, Galley closely follows civic issues across Chennai, a factor that has endeared him to journalists, who call him for his views on a range of issues.

“I have seen the best of Madras and the worst of Madras and now, I am working for the betterment of Madras,” is how he puts it, to emphasise that his interest in the city has not dwindled one bit.

OMR is home

He focussed on issues infrastructure and civic issues across entire city, he shows a special interest in the IT Expressway and surrounding regions. Because, it is home.

“My family has been living in Semmancheri since 1929 and I have seen bullock carts trundle down OMR. Even in 2002, there would be bullock carts on the stretch. Around thirteen years ago, when it was announced that this road would made a six-lane, I asked, Why not just a four-lane? Now, I ask — why not a ten-lane? Around the time the process of six-laning began, I asked Nirmal to place me in a position in Exnora that would enable me to interact with TNRDC,” says Galley.

Galley believes OMR is running behind schedule.

“Traffic is already a massive problem on OMR and I put this down to lack of foresight. Work on a mass rapid transit system — a BRTS line, perhaps — should have been undertaken, years ago, when the traffic was beginning to get thicker. The draft project report for the elevated corridor on OMR will soon be ready. In my opinion, the elevated corridor will soak up a lot of resources and I consider just having flyovers at key junctions would be a cost-effective alternative. When the IT Expressway was promoted as an idea, it was said that this would be a world class stretch. It can be considered world class only if it addresses the problem of traffic snarls,” says the OMR resident.

Galley can be contacted at 9884002030.


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Printable version | May 16, 2022 1:06:18 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/Establishing-connections/article14492677.ece