The premises of Rajiv Gandhi Nagar, a locality consisting of salaried-class people in Thiruvanmiyur, was worse than a trash yard. There are around 128 homes in three blocks, A, B, and C. At the façade, between block B and C, home-makers used to dispose the kitchen leftovers from the kitchen windows, creating an unhygienic atmosphere. Behind the blocks area, the tipplers used to throw the leftovers, dump liquor bottles, and pet bottles. Not, so anymore. Thanks to Archana Hari, a resident of Kalakshetra Colony, Besant Nagar, and Jayanthi Prem Chander, a resident of Thiruvanmiyur, who along with the residents, have not only cleaned the premises of the locality, but have given a facelift.
Speaking, Jayanthi Prem Chander, says “The area abutting the blocks, and a playground, a Greater Chennai Corporation playground is located behind the Nagar, was full of mess.
Along with the children, we (Archana Hari and Jayanthi Prem Chander), cleaned the trash, scrapped and whitewashed, and painted the walls on road safety, and cartoon characters. The playground area was overgrown with grass. Steps were taken to weed the grass and paint the walls facing the ground.”
In the evening, at the playground, children play Badminton, Cricket, and Football. Recently, Archana Hari and Jayanthi Prem Chander, conducted catch and catch and Kabaddi competitions among the children. The boys fly kites at the playground (The boys make the kites in their homes). Besides, classes on ‘Bharatanatyam’, Value Education, and Yoga, are held.
Very soon, we are proposing to conduct painting classes for children, adds Jayanthi.
A section of children have kept potted plants, and have raised a vegetable garden. Earlier, residents, and neighbours used to throw trash from the windows.
The boys and girls take care, and water the saplings daily without fail. The children have raised commonly used vegetables, bitter gourds’ Broccoli’s’, chillies, pumpkins’, spinaches’, sugarcanes, and tomatoes’.
P. Pravin says, “ Water conservation went for a toss among the residents. After switching on the motors to draw water, the residents will forget to put off the switch. The water will mix with garbage, creating a breeding ground for the mosquitoes. People from windows, and residing near the area used to dump the garbage. After, we cleaned the area, and cultivated a vegetable garden, people have stopped dumping garbage. Even, the mosquito menace has reduced.
S. Venkat Raman, a resident, says, “ There were four drinking water sumps (Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board). The pumps were in repair. Jayanthi madam and Archana ma’am took up the issue with the CM Cell and authorities concerned in the CMWSSB, and repaired the sumps, and took steps to remove the blocks in the drainage system within six weeks.”
Apart, the social and environmental activists took up with Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board the condition of a community room in the premises of the Nagar. Thanks to their unstinted efforts, steps are being taken to renovate the room. The residents plan to use the hall for conducting tuition classes for the children.
Soon, along with the children, Archana and I will be forming an eco-club to sensitize the children on the importance of environment, planting trees and conserving water-bodies.
I wanted to give back to the community. When we approached them, they readily agreed, and helped us a lot, especially, J. Moorthy, and S. Venkat Raman. The children too helped us a lot. After seeing our team work, the people have become more disciplined. They do not dump the trash in the open, bins. The community service, along with the community members, can be replicated in other areas, adds Jayanthi Prem Chander.