This weekend, instead of the regular malls and cinemas, the citizens of Malleswaram got out on conservancy lanes in the locality. While some grooved to music and performed zumba, others picked up their rackets to play badminton. Children played hopscotch on the lanes while their parents played boardgames. The ‘Malleswaram Majja Madona’ (Let us have fun, Malleswaram), organised under the ‘Walkable Malleswaram’ campaign provided recreation to the residents.
All of these activities were organised on the conservancy lanes of 19th Cross mainly with an aim to activate these lanes. “These activities have been organised to test some tactical interventions and also to get community members to vote on the permanent infrastructure we will put up here. But the main aim is to urge people to activate and use conservancy lanes as walking lanes,” said Sobia Rafiq, co-founder, Sensing Local.
Conservancy lanes that were once used for the ignominious purpose of manual scavenging, are now mostly used for parking vehicles. Malleswaram Urban Living Lab (M-ULL), a collaboration between Malleswaram Social and Sensing Local Foundation, has now taken up an initiative to reinvent conservancy lanes into public spaces for senior citizens and children, boosting the walkability of the area. All facilities that senior citizens and children look forward to — benches, adequate lighting and road safety, play areas, swings, will be provided in these lanes, that connect key amenities like parks, schools and hospitals in the area. The initiative is supported by the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) as well. These lanes will also be transformed into play areas for children.
For residents, this was a chance to explore their locality in a way that they do not usually. “My family has been living here for decades and I do not remember stepping out into the conservancy lanes. I had heard about the painted walls on these lanes, but had not ventured to check them out. Now I feel like we have a lot of space in our locality to let our children play,” said a young parent at the event.
Another interactive activity which was enjoyed by the crowd was the wall painting session organised with the help of a few professional artists. Some people from the community also closed the show for the day by rendering a musical performance. While Saturday’s events were attended by many children including toddlers, the organisers are expecting a better turnout on Sunday as all schools will be shut.
The events on Sunday will also be on a slightly larger scale as five conservancy lanes connected to 8th Cross will be activated. Children who visit the lanes can take part in origami and gardening workshops, play street games, and also take part in painting, colouring and storytelling sessions. “The adults too can attend the composting (gardening) workshop and shop for their tastes at the garage sale,” an organiser said.
While most who have registered for the events have been residents from Malleswaram only, the organisers said that there were people from nearby localities like Sadashiv Nagar and Rajajinagar, who had also turned up with their children.