Friday, September 30, 2005

Citizen Self-Action



Rathna Avenue
This is a story of residents getting together to turn a potholed lane into a pretty avenue
The Times of India

Right in the heart of the city, this little lane that meanders along, with homes and apartments on either side, has its own culture. Interestingly, it stems from the little road that needed some tar on it. Rathna Avenue, off Richmond Road, was a narrow bumpy lane that turned difficult to negotiate after a downpour. Today, the road presents a different picture and the story of its transformation makes interesting reading.

It all began when A Balakrishna Hegde, Managing Director, Chartered Housing, whose house is on Rathna Avenue, proposed a comprehensive scheme for refurbishment, upgradation and beautification of the road. The response from the other residents was overwhelming. It hardly took any time for the Rathna Avenue Association to be formed with Balakrishna Hegde as President. And development of the avenue began in right earnest.

The road was asphalted till the drain line and a slope created to ensure rain water drains off. Kerb stones were put on either sides of the road, and painted green and yellow. Next came some greenery. Lawns and shrubs were planted along the sides. An overflowing dustbin at the entrance that was an eyesore was removed and door-to-door garbage collection introduced with the help of the Bangalore City Corporation (BCC). Each building was given two plastic bins to segregate garbage.

Sodium vapour lamps replaced the existing tubelights. This brightened up the road and also made it safer at night. Attractive signage incorporating all the door numbers was installed at the entrance of the avenue. For orderly parking, car parking bays have been marked.

The association has also put in place a system for disposing garden cuttings and debris, a security system at the entrance of the lane, arranged for maintenance of the greenery and sweeping of the road daily.

"We live here and wanted a clean and orderly neighbourhood," says Balakrishna, adding, "We found the response encouraging and there is bonding between residents." Farnaz Zal, treasurer of the association, says she keeps a watch on the lane daily to ensure it remains the beautiful avenue it has come to be. "People here see the work being done and contribute too," she says. Meeru Pai, secretary, believes this should spark off more such initiatives.

All the maintenance works are funded through contributions of Rs 1,200 per house as annual maintenance charges. The association has more plans like getting all cables (power, telephone and TV) into underground ducts and devising a system for disposing of debris at new constructions.

A pretty avenue apart, the Rathna Association's initiatives show another dimension of the city's multifaceted culture. Getting the road in shape has brought together people willing to put in time, money and knowledge to bring back beauty to their neighbourhood. "We need to demonstrate that it is possible", says Balakrishna. "His knowledge of architecture and construction has helped us a great deal," says Farnaz. They feel such efforts demonstrate what residents' associations can do for the city.

Rathna Avenue is a story of how people got together to wave the magic wand of involvement, dedication and ownership and turned a potholed lane into a pretty avenue. It now lives up to its name.


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