Saturday, March 29, 2008

Making neighbourhoods better for all

Making neighbourhoods better for all
Leena Mudbidri
trains the spotlight on a few trail-blazing RWAs in the city and their many accomplishments to enhance the quality of life among the residents

Many a Residents' Welfare Association (RWA) has been able to transform the very civic fabric of its neighbourhood. Given the power of a united people, RWAs have been able to garner support from civic and legal sources, to improve amenities and infrastructure in their areas of residence.
RWAs in Bangalore too have played a major role in spearheading several neighbourhood projects which otherwise would never have seen the light of day. There are nearly a hundred RWAs registered in Bangalore city alone.
The Residents Welfare Association Bangalore East (REWABE), Milton Street, Cooke Town, is one of the oldest RWAs in Bangalore. According to the former president of REWABE C P Vaidyanathan, the RWA was established in 1975 and has been instrumental in encouraging dialogue with the civic authorities in getting several road and civic amenities completed. He credits the present president of REWABE, C P Abraham with taking the initiative for several developments in the neighbourhood.
The REWABE was instrumental in setting up the first HOPCOMS in the vicinity. "We fought a legal battle in evicting land-grabbers in the park on Milton Street. Today, the residents can enjoy the facilities in the park," informs Vaidyanathan.
Garbage clearance measures and a sanitation campaign followed which initially had hiccups but is now gradually improving.
The members of REWABE were also successful in guiding the residents in the selfassessment tax scheme and also distributed the list for voters to enroll themselves.
Along with Vaidyanathan and Abraham, Ramesh and Narahari too campaigned for the underpass opposite the Fraser Town police station.
What is unique about the Federation of Sanjaynagar Associations is that 27 RWAs in the neighbourhood have come together to field their own candidates for the upcoming elections. The reason, according to K N Venugopal and R C Dutt of the Gandhigiri RWA which is part of the Federation, is that all the years, the residents have been electing strangers as corporators and MLAs. This time, he and other RWA members feel that supporting their own, known candidates will ensure honesty while executing their duties. The only criteria for the candidature is that the members have to be long-time residents of the area with a clean record, should be known in the neighbourhood for participating in the civic activities, and those who are willing to be people's representatives and address immediate concerns of the locality.
Almost each Phase in J P Nagar has its own residents' welfare association working in the interest of its neighbourhood. Perhaps, the largest and most influential one is the Federation of J P Nagar 7 & 8 Phase Residents Welfare Associations (FJPNRWA) at Gouravnagar, a registered body, which has a way with the civic agencies in getting its work done. Getting the BDA to lay the Puttenahalli Main Road in record time was a feather in its cap. The Federation has many other achievements to its credit. The members got a borewell installed to cater to the water needs of all the other layouts around. One thousand saplings were planted along the Kothanur Dinne Road during a Vanamahotsava it had organised. The saplings were bought from the Forest Department of the BBMP.
The members requested a realtor in the vicinity to put up sodium vapour streetlights in several neighbouhoods at Eshwaranagar, Gouravnagar, Jamboonagar, Gayatri Tapovan, M S Ramaiah City, RBI Layout, and Natraj Layout.
"For 11 years we had no tarred road on the 6-km Kothanur Dinne Road. We got it done ourselves instead of waiting for the BDA to initiate works," informs K Sundar Raj, president of the RWA.
The resident's welfare association of Gayatri Tapovan is in the process of shaping a perfect neighbourhood. The aim of G Jagadish, committee member of this welfare association in J P Nagar 8 Phase, is to make it a 'model neighbourhood' in the city. "We believe in enforcing civic sense among our residents so that each one contributes to the cleanliness and development of the city," he says.
The Chalukya Geleyara Balaga is another perfect example of how residents of a neighbourhood can contribute towards a better society. The welfare association has donated an ambulance and two hearse vans for round-the-clock free service for entire J P Nagar. A ladies association extends help to widows and specially challenged children.


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