The mobile is an inseparable part of 69-year-old Jose Joseph’s life. While going on his morning walk, he carries it around South Jaganathan Nagar and SIDCO Nagar in Villivakkam, not to listen to songs but to click pictures of civic problems and post them on the colony’s WhatApp group. He knows committee members in the group will take these issues to Greater Chennai Corporation or other government agency based on relevance. Sometimes, the retired banker “plogs” during these walks, picking up the trash to throw it in the closest bin.
A few streets away, at 3rd Main Road South Jaganathan Nagar, K Vijaya Kumari sometimes hires workers to keep the area outside her street clean. A garbage bin is plonked near her independent house and the retired teacher employs a carrot-and-stick approach in ensuring cleanliness.
Jose and Vijaya are among the most enthusiastic participants in South Jaganathan Nagar Welfare Association’s campaign to keep its turf clean. The colony was honoured last year by Greater Chennai Corporation under the programme, People’s Movement for Clean Cities.
S Vetrivel, secretary, South Jaganathan Nagar Welfare Association, says the Association was started more than 30 years ago but became defunct. In 2014, it was revived. “We have 290 members in our WhatsApp group, which is the main mode of communication,” says Vetrivel, a teacher with a private school.
He says the 2015 Chennai Floods brought the residents together. Being a colony spread across three main roads and nine cross streets, ensuring every nook and cranny stays clean is a stiff challenge, one the Association has proved equal to.
“The colony did not have enough bins for the number of people living there, so we represented the matter to the Corporation and today we have nine bins,” says Vetrivel.
Every quarter, the Association conducts an awareness session on segregation of waste at source.
The Association honours conservancy staff for serving the colony, with special gifts being showered on them, particularly during festivals.
The Association is also focussed on increasing the neighbourhood’s green cover.