Downtown

Quiet revolution

Residents of Ayyavu Naidu Colony believe they live in a model neighbourhood. Photo: R. Ravindran   | Photo Credit: R_RAVINDRAN

Though engulfed by three busy roads — Poonamalee High Road, Nelson Manickam Road and Razak Garden Main Road — Ayyavu Naidu Colony has managed to maintain a rare calm. Its tree-lined roads are well-laid and have all the necessary sanitation facilities. Credit for this has to go to its residents welfare association, which celebrated its silver jubilee last month.

That was clearly an occasion for residents to re-live certain moments in the past that contributed to the development of the area into what it is — an oasis of calm in a region that bustles with activity.

In the souvenir that was released on the occasion, long-time residents had written about various civic battles they had successfully fought together. “Unlike Anna Nagar, which was a planned layout, we had no systems in place — no pucca roads or even basic amenities. But, as land was affordable in this locality, many started investing in plots here,” recalls 80-year-old N. Kannappan who purchased a half-a-ground plot at Rs. 3,500 in 1963. “The settlement was sparse until the 1970s as the Corporation displayed a form of nonchalance when it came to providing civic amenities to the colony,” says K. Shanmugavelayutham, retired professor of Loyola College and a long-time resident of the colony. In 1965, Ayyavu Naidu Colony Land Owners’ Association was formed and members took up one issue after the other with the Corporation. Later in 1991, Ayyavu Naidu Colony Residents’ Welfare Association (ANCORWA), spread across 26 streets, was formed with the objective of seeking better amenities for the area. “Our longest battle with the civic body was getting drainage lines.

We submitted slips of the ‘betterment tax’ paid by residents to convince the Corporation that we were a colony with a high population and that they must address issues in our locality as they would those in any other layout,” says Shanmugavelayutham.

One or more members were tasked with taking up an issue with the officials.

“For instance, as I retired from TNEB, I took up the issue of getting a separate transformer for the colony,” says G. Ram Mohan.

Their most recent effort was ensuring new water pipelines were laid in the colony. The effort is already paying off: erratic water supply is now a thing of the past.

Many other initiatives, members say, have helped residents develop of sense of unity. Every second Sunday, office bearers of the Association meet.

This unity does not derive entirely from the fact that they rally together when a civic issue is on the horizon; it is also the result of familiarity. Nearly 80 percent of the original settlers continue to live in the area.

“Of the 400 plots in the colony, around 385 have owners as residents,” says D. Munikrishnan, who retired from Pachiyappas College.

Around 10 streets have installed CCTV cameras.

“We have 20 families in our streets. Ten of them were keen on enhancing the security through these devices so we pooled in money and installed four cameras,” says N. Kathiresan, secretary of the Association and resident of Navaneethammal Street.

Apart from celebrating important festivals, the Association honours conservancy workers of the colony during Pongal.

As part of its 25th year celebration, the Association has launched a cleanliness drive, which includes encouraging residents to take up source segregation of waste.

Meanwhile, there are many new issues they want to be addressed.

On top of the list is finding a solution to the traffic problem that has resulted from the ongoing work on the Aminjikarai flyover.





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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 9:54:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/quiet-revolution/article14429903.ece1

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