Cities

‘Unity is our strength’

Some of the key members of Sri Sarvamangala Nagar Residents Association.

Some of the key members of Sri Sarvamangala Nagar Residents Association.  

When K. Ramakrishna moved to Sarvamangala Nagar in the mid 90s, he didn’t have much of a company. With less than 10 houses dotting the neighbourhood, it’s hardly a wonder that it was pathetically lacking in basic amenities.

At the time Ramakrishna was working at the Secretariat and he knew how to go about asking for this necessary things. The first thing he did was apply for a transformer in one of the streets. “Sarvamangala Nagar was at the tail-end of Chitlapakkam and there were just a handful of families living there. The locality did not have a properly-laid road and there were no streetlights. We petitioned the Electricity Department to set up a transformer and in a few months the first transformer was installed. While this was a collective effort by residents, my association with various government departments certainly helped,” he says.

Since then, Ramakrishna has played a significant role in ensuring Sri Sarvamangala Nagar got the many of the essential amenities. He retired as Deputy Secretary of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly Secretariat in 2010. “As a member of a resident welfare association, it may be difficult to approach or meet the right officials. But as a government staff, even a former one at that, there is the advantage of easy access to officials. It is also easy to follow up on an issue and keep track of its progress,” he adds.

He reiterates that it is a team work. “Sarvamangala Nagar is home to several government servants — bureaucrats and judges and staff of many government departments — and we all work together for common causes. We just utilise the resources in each of our departments for the neighbourhood’s welfare. Unity is our biggest strength,” he adds.

The Association also joined hands with Sembakkam Civic Welfare Association and went to the National Green Tribunal to stop the burning of garbage in the Sembakkam lake. “None of these has been an individual effort. We all team up to fight for a cause and with our experience, we guide youngsters to become neighbourhood activists,” he says.

An exception

M. Ravi is a name familiar to most residents in Chitlapakkam. As secretary of Sri Sarvamangala Nagar Residents Association, he has been actively taking up neighbourhood issues. He was instrumental in drawing the government’s attention towards Sembakkam lake and its deterioration, and after a long battle of nearly two decades, the lake is being revived, albeit slowly.

Another issue Ravi is actively pursuing is the widening of Chitlapakkam Main Road and he has knocked on the doors of his own department for help.

“Chitlapakkam Main Road is an arterial route and gives easy access to GST Road and Velachery Main Road. However, the main road looks like a small lane, thanks to encroachments and unauthorised parking of vehicles. For motorists and pedestrians, negotiating this stretch is a tough task especially during rush hour. The width of the road is not proportionate on certain sections and the stretch will be free of chaos only if it’s widened,” he says.

The Association has made several representations to the Tambaram MLA, St. Thomas Mount Panchayat Union, and the Chief Minister’s Cell. Recently, Ravi approached the Traffic Police Department to study the traffic problems in the stretch and help the residents with their campaign to widen the road.

“I submitted a petition to the higher officials in the department who then forwarded the request to the Chromepet traffic department. The officials too considered my request and conducted a feasibility study and submitted a report to the Chitlapakkam Panchayat. We are now awaiting a decision,” Ravi says.

In what makes Ravi different from the other people featured in this week’s Downtown Cares, he is still in the service of the government being employed with the Traffic Police Department. “Though I was representing the Association, the Traffic Police Department considered the request, not because I work there, but because it was for a larger good,” he says.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 9:51:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/unity-is-our-strength/article26608726.ece

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