Neighbourhood residents on a recent Photowalk along Padur Lake were struck by the scenic settings, and its potential for development into a prime recreational area, to serve the cluster of high-rise residential communities that have come up on Padur-Kelambakkam stretch.
Families living in Akshaya's, ETA Rosedale, Mantri Synergy, X S Real, The Jains, The Gem Group and Poorvankara wouldn't have to look any farther than their backyard for Sunday picnicking. A paved walkway, joggers track, lakeside picnic areas, and open-air performance stage would account for high value social infrastructure.
Govt. funding would be hard to come by for such big ticket social infra-project. We could try a partnership model involving all stakeholders in lake area development - residents, property developers, corporates with CSR budget, panchayat, local town-planning authorities, urban development and tourism depts. Stakeholders share the project cost. We could try crowd-funding.
Maybe OMR Greens are into big-ticket dreams, triggered by their Padur Lake Photowalk. Maybe, other neighbourhood residents and photo enthusiasts should take to photowalk , to explore the lakeside further and talk about it in the social media. To start with, let us open a Padur Lake plan page on Facebook.
Any lake development plan at Padur, we reckon, must start with provision of clean bank of public toilets along the lake. Their need would be evident for anyone who takes an early morning lakeside walk. That is when you find many people moving about behind the bushes around the lake.
Padur has recently acquired Nilgiris - air-conditioned super-mart - but, apparently, there are still houses in its neighbourhood with no proper toilets. Influx of migrant workers seeking rented houses for group-living adds to the pressure, driving many residents to the bushes in the morning. Lakeside public toilet is a crying need, and no lake improvement plan can be implemented without fulfilling the basic need of people in the vicinity.
Namma Toilet, of the type that has been built at Tambaram, appears to hold a solution to the problem of public defecation around Padur Lake. According to Tambaram municipal commissioner, a 'Namma Toilet' unit costs nearly Rs.70,000. A prefabricated modular stall, 'Namma Toilet' can be assembled at the site.
Sanitation specialist Somya Sethuraman, writing in The Hindu, speaks of the need for a collective effort to create a user-friendly design, which would cater to the needs of all kinds — men and women, children, the elderly, and residents with special needs.
Somya writes: "The toilets have louvres on all four sides and a sunroof to allow for optimal ventilation, natural light and a feeling of openness without compromising user privacy. The fittings and fixtures are vandal resistant, durable and user-friendly. Each toilet stall is powered by a solar panel installed on the roof. During the day, the toilets get sunlight while the solar panels charge the battery, and when it is dark, the stalls are lit with motion sensor lighting".
A bank of five toilets by Padur lakeside would cost Rs.5 lakhs. If this could raised by way of crowd-funding and corporate CSR contribution, OMR Greens can be said to have taken a baby step towards their big-ticket social infrastructure project that would benefit emerging residential communities on Padur-Kelambakkam stretch of OMR.
Padur lakeside photowalk, video by Soman Panicker