Shanthinagar Colony: Ever experienced peace amidst the rush of an urban metro? If not, head to ‘Shanthi’nagar on a blazing hot day. This peaceful abode located just a few metres off the noisy street of Masab Tank, wraps you in the shade of its wide mahoganies, even as bright blue sign boards direct you towards the community club house. Once there, soak in the calm radiated by the manicured frontal lawns adorning the English style building- a structure which stands tall as the community’s collective participation in development.
“There is nothing new we have done to get the GHMC award. The colony members have always maintained the colony with care. In fact, even when the colony first came into existence way back in 1959, we were more aware of the need for open spaces for recreation, than the municipality was,” says Ashwin Kumar P, Secretary of the Residents' Association.
And awareness in its entirety is what binds the community together. “We have 120 houses divided over four lanes, of which half are apartments. Since the residents comprise upper middle class or higher income group, cleanliness and rules are adhered to easily. Cultural programmes and get-togethers conducted, further develop a sense of belonging among all,” he says.
Some of the healthy practices in the colony include garbage collection and regular contact with all government departments such as electricity, water, law and order etc, in addition to a strict ban against entry of any kind of vendors, merchant shops or encroachment of space by posters, flexes, banners etc within the colony.
And looking into the future, the colony plans to effectively utilise the `15 lakh worth development works promised by the GHMC for projects on sustainable resource management. “Water recirculation facility, a bio-gas plant, improved lighting, re-laying of footpaths and maintenance of planted trees are the immediate requirements,” explains Kumar.
Umanagar Colony: The chances of having heard of the quarterly newsletter titled ‘Voice of Umanagar’ might be minimal. But it would surprise you to know that the publication is a product of the residents and for the residents, of a colony by the same name. In a nutshell, that’s just how serious Umanagar colony, located two blocks across the Begumpet bridge, takes its responsibility of effective community building.
With a silence that calmly excites, to dense green landscapes and tidy lanes that delight your eyes, the colony exudes an air that’s so rich, it makes you want to inhale over and over again. But the beauty of Umanagar is more than just skin-deep.
“We practice 36 activities including garbage disposal, liaison with various govt bodies, and managing laughter and exercise clubs,” explains Capt Manohar Sharma, president of the resident welfare association. “There are also 23 rainwater harvesting pits below the ground connected to the borewell supply. We make use of this water for gardening and to maintain the park,” he says.
And apart from such innovative practices, the 246 -house colony conducts monthly meetings wherein acts of charity are planned, alongside meaningful discussions. “This way we create a homogenous atmosphere”, explains Capt Sharma.
But according to the residents, the biggest advantage of Umanagar is the adherence to stringent financial management methods and systems, which made GHMC sit up and take notice. “All our transactions are done through cheques alone. Residents have also unanimously decided to use only cloth bags for shopping purposes and the use of plastic and entry of hawkers, vendors and wayfarers into the colony is banned”, Sharma reveals.
And continuing its good work, the colony has big plans for the future, “We intend to request the GHMC to build entry gates at each lane, so as to make Umanagar a gated community to avoid unauthorised entry. Also complete renovation of the park and building a pathological lab at the nursing school located within the colony compound is on the cards. That way, residents can avail medical facility 24x7,” he says.
He adds with a note of elation, “It costs us around Rs 1,80,000 a year for maintenance alone. But the residents chip in with money readily. After all, the money spent is well spent.”
Sri Lakshminagar Colony: Tucked away in the outskirts of Hyderabad, Sri Lakshminagar Colony at first glance stands out as a lazy open space, best fit to spend your days in retirement. Numerous neem trees jostle for your attention alongside wide pavements and community temples; even as gardeners go about crafting the landscapes to fit in with the general mood. But this colony which is home to the middle class, mostly scientists and defense personnel, has found success in community living by adopting technology. And how.
“There are more than 400 families in our colony. And we use SMS to remind everyone of new activities or proposed plans”, says Radhakrishna Atluri, scientist with DRDO and Secretary of the welfare association. The association has nominated one representative per road to look after the requirements. “If any day the sweeper or garbage collector doesn’t arrive, complaints are directly sent to the GHMC. Also by having individuals for every road we are able to gather information and decide on the needs of the residents better”, he says. SMS facility also helps remind residents of the monthly mosquito fogging practice on offer.
And in tune with its new-found status, the colony seeks to bring out its own independent projects in the future. Says Radhakrishna, “As of now, we have a sharing agreement with the GHMC, and contribute 25% of the total amount towards cleaning and maintenance. But a need has been felt to build independent projects.” He cites a case where even though the GHMC award will be utilised for building a rainwater harvesting system, a new community hall and to improve greenery, the colony wants to build an indoor sports stadium, with its own monetary contribution.
And as is expected, responsible residents have been encouraged to start gardening and terrace farming on a small yet scientific scale. Seminars and meetings to provide assistance on the same have also been held.