Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wish Santhosh goes to school as well

The boy on the fish-cart is now back at school, thanks to The Hindu which published this photo of a school drop-out Nandakumar,  carrying a friend to school on his tricycle.
 Following the publication officials of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan tracked down the boy at his Chindatripet residence and persuaded his mother, a domestic help, to send her 12-year-old back to school. Education dept. officials have enrolled Nandakumar in a three-month bridge course, pending his admission in a regular school this academic year.
Near Kelambakkam on OMR we ran into Santhosh, another boy-on-fish-cart, helping his rag-picker brother Ramesh, who hasn't been to school either. Boys of school-going age can be found all over in the rag-picking trade.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tree-planting @ Kelambakkam balwadi

 Balwadi teacher Mary Kumar planting the first sapling at their front lawn.
Some of us at Mantri Synergy celebrated R-day twice  today. After the flag-hoisting ceremony in front of D Block we drove to Kelambakkam to take part at a tree-planting event organized by a local youth group. Their leader D Stalin invited OMR Greens to plant a sapling at the front yard of the Balwadi on Kovalam Road.
Among OMR Greens members from Mantri's were Mr Viswanathan and his wife Chitra.
It was his birthday, and Mr Viswanathan was invited to plant a sapling by the Kelambakkam youths. I am sure the Viswanathans wouldn't forget such guesture. And whenever the couple pass through Kovalam Road at Kelambakkam they would have a special reason for dropping in at the Balwadi, if only to see how the sapling Mr Viswanathan has planted is coming up.
Another Mantri resident, and OMR Greens founding member, was so touched on hearing about  the state of Balwadi's upkeep that he sanctioned right away  the cost for a cupboard. He also offered to pay for drawing books and things the children need. The govt. run balwadi has on its rolls 25 children in the 2 - 5 age group.
Their teacher Mary Kumar who planted the first of the four saplings on the front yard of Balwadi assured us that she and her children would water the plants and take care of them, if only the saplings can be protected from stray cattle.
A prominent resident and owner of Saravana Medicals, B Kumar, offered to fix a gate to prevent entry of stray cattle. A secured gate can also to prevent after-hours  use of the front lawn for late night drinking by undesirable elements.Youth leader Stalin said  his boys had, earlier in the morning morning, cleaned the lawn that was littered with empty quarters and used plastic sachets.
Panchaya president Venkatesan who shows up at every OMR Greens event planted a sapling along with Saravana Medicals Kumar.
YouTube on  Tree-planting by panchayat chief
Tree-planting at Kelambakkam balwadi

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Kanpur Rani Joins Kelambakkam Walk

Kanpur Rani (front row, right)  is not a name one would easily forget. But it isn't because of her name  OMR Greens cherishes  her participation at our Kelambakkam 'Awareness' Walk  today Sunday (Jan.20). It was our first public event in 2013; and indeed the first of its kind since OMR Greens was launched in September last. Walkers included Kelambakkam residents, and a group of Hindustan University students and staff members led by assistant professor Geethadevi .She is an old hand for us at OMR Greens. Geethadevi had led a similar group from Hindustan University when we went trash-busting at Padur over 3 months back.

Kanpur Rani is on the staff Hindustan University. Her presence at the walk is significant because she chose to join us against doctor's orders - he prescribed bed rest. And she needed to be particularly careful. Ms Kanpur is in a family way. Which  prompted our colleague Gopalan Ramanujum to observe that at  OMR Greens we have all age-groups represented, even a child unborn. I told him, we  shouldn't be surprised if the mother-to-be, nick-named Kanpur names  her child after 'Kelambakkam'.  Such was Kanpur Rani's enthusiasm for OMR Greens Kelambakkam Walk. Her drive, and determination, to contribute to our cause  made our day.

Akilan Rajendran, a student participant, e-mailed us saying it was  'a gud programme...hats off, sir'. We solute him and his college mates for making our Walk a lively affair. A bunch of local youths led by Stalin led us through the bylanes of Kelambakkam, much to the surprise and amusement residents. On the way we were joined by Stephen,  a local AIADMK party functionary, and Dhev, a Dalit social activist. And then we had  Kelambakkam panchayat chief G Venkatesan marking his presence, despite his pre-occupation with monitoring  polio-drops admin. centres set up at strategic points.

 "A wonderful program,....very useful for our society. Our next program would have more participation," so says D. Strugle Stalin, our man in Kelambakkam. He suggests we plant trees this Jan.26, making the Republic Day a 'green day'. Dhev wanted OMR Greens reps. to address  his community members. Though our strength didn't exceed 40, watching us moving about with placards a by-stander asked if we had police permission to take out the procession.
None of us had thought of it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Wall painters @ Padur

She may not even pass by their street, to notice the mega writings on the wall, but the local party functionaries at Padur on OMR have covered all available wall space in their area with messages of birthday greetings to the AIADMK supremo and the state CM, addressed, simply, as Mudhalvar Amma.
Painters and poster artists are engaged in  strength to do the walls  in celebration of Ms Jayalalithaa's birthday on Feb.24.
Work is in progress on the outer wall of a farmland,  stretching from Hindustan University campus to the edge of Padur market . The painter says he has been retained to do five such walls along  OMR, within the panchayat limits. It will take days, if not weeks; and the three-man painting crew at Padur has made an early start,  more than a month before the CM's birthday.
My plea to the partymen: While doing  the wall painting  you could also engage some people to clean up the space in front of the painted wall. This would do the road-users much good.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

'Trash-busting' : What's the big deal ?

A reader of TOI article – OMR residents go on trash-busting drives – left a comment, asking “Where does the garbage and trash go? How do you transport it ?”   Philo Stalwin,  a resident of Kelambakkam, provides the answer:  In a mail to  OMR Greens   Stalwin says the garbage that the local panchayat collects from households and streets is dumped in make-shift landfill  by the side of  a lake  behind the Puravankara residential complex that is under construction. The trash heap is set on fire ,  every other night, burning the dump to make space for more garbage.
Trash that is burnt,  unsorted,  may include used tyre,  plastics,  spent battery,  expired medicine , and substances generating toxic fume that spread in the wind in populated neigbourhoods.  Isn’t it time people living in emerging high-rise buildings took congnizance of this smouldering health hazard ?
Skeptics ask  OMR Greens,  ‘what is the big deal in trash-busting  when garbage gets dumped at the same spot the day after it is done’?  Trash-busting is not a waste disposal solution,  but a token initiative by a community group,  to create public awareness  that waste disposal problem  can only get worse, and eventually,  unmanageable,   if we continue to  ignore it.  And   a solution has to be sought with community participation.
OMR Greens is for  a cluster approach to creating infrastructure,  for effective waste and sewage disposal. Government and civic bodies never allocate adequate funds .  Trash-busting is our ways of mobilizing support for setting up area-specific,  locality-wise waste-to-energy plant.  It is  a residents  initiative to bring together,  neighbourhood people,  panchayat, and property developers , as joint stakeholders  in creating and sustaining  social assets such as  waste-to-energy plants,  sewage-free neighbourhood lakes,  community tree-planting in public space.
Hand-in-Hand,   an NGO runs  Mamallapuram waste-to-energy unit  fed on kitchen waste collected from households,  restaurants, and hotels.  They generate energy enough to light their 3-acre unit,  and also the street that leads from the plant to ECR. The land for the waste conversion unit has been given by the local panchayat. The Mamallapuram waste-to-energy plant is located on land that was used as a trash dump by the civic authorities.
Kelambakkam panchayat can learn a lesson here.   What they can do :
1) Set aside ,  for waste-energy conversion plant,   a part of the land that is now used for dumping and burning trash;
2) Seek guidance of  NGO – Hand-in-Hand, Exnora  IndrakumarVivekananda Kendra  -  to prepare a project proposal, and costs estimate.
3) Convene a ‘town-hall’ public hearing,  to share with residents  project details,  and proposal for a monthly waste-disposal charges  (like OMR Expressway toll)  to be  collected from residents,  shops, eating houses and corporates located in the panchayat area; and
4) Levy social infrastructure fee on property developers, in proportion to the scale, size and the number of apartments.

Cross-posted from My Take by GVK