A sole resident stands out in the sun and looks on as a few corporation workers mill a tar road. Under blazing afternoon sun or way into the night, he and his fellow volunteers turn up like clockwork whenever there is any work carried out by the civic body.
For these residents of Thiruvanmiyur, any civic issue on their turf is important. By splitting themselves into separate focus groups for waste management, electricity, road projects and other works, they oversee civic initiatives for nearly 500 houses that fall under the purview of Radhakrishnan Resident Association (RRA). The RRA has been a key factor driving the civic activities for many years, although it had slowed down until recently. “We are working to get back its registered status, which it lost in the late 1990s due to a drop in interest,” said Natarajan, acting president, RRA.
The Dr Radhakrishnan Nagar Resident Welfare Association was set up in 1974 to address the immediate problems of the locality at that time. “The old members had toiled for everything from Cooum clean up to local activities. The association was buzzing with work in the past,” he recalled.
Today, only 15-20 active volunteers remain and they manage the administration, ensure civic problems are addressed and approach the officials with their grievances.
“The corporation is receptive unlike in the past. Our zonal engineer listened to our suggestions for nearly three hours and also shared his views,” he said. Whether it’s digging roads or clearing garbage, at least one RRA member keeps vigil and oversees the entire work. But this collective spirit was revived only recently during the floods when even the most inactive members decided to do their bit to help. “There are members who had won certificates when they were kids and now have grown-up children of their own,” he said. One of the long-time residents Shanti, for instance, even has a street named after her.
Why do they volunteer for this? “If we are really concerned, we must be willing to stay up, stand out in the sun and get our work done,” he says.