When I am done with the newspapers every morning and there is still time on my hands, I turn back to the advertisements released by state bodies.
Adverts put out by the city Corporation, the Highways and PWD departments, the Pollution Control Board and the CMDA.
For, in those boring adverts of lines, figures and columns are stories that you and I need to appreciate and understand.
Perhaps, the people who own that large, empty plot of land in your colony have now decided to put up a workshop and need an NOC.
Perhaps, the City Fathers have decided to replace the pavement of your avenue with fancy red-oxide tiles in order to beautify our garden paths!
Perhaps, this is the third time that a tender is being floated in order to construct a bridge across the local canal.
How interested are we as citizens in public projects that affect us all?
Take the case of the new agency for garbage clearance contracted to operate in some parts of the city.
Neel Metal Fanalca.
How much of the contract and all that is associated with it is in the public domain and how transparent have Neel Metal and the city Corporation been so far?
A month has gone by since the new agency took charge and it is clear that Neel Metal is still not completely equipped to do its job.
Garbage continues to pile up in many colonies, garbage bins have not found a place everywhere, the staff are ill-equipped and transparency is missing.
It now appears that the contract envisaged only 'door to door' garbage collection. Which means that the system of having bins at street corners was nowhere in the new scheme.
But we were told that the bins had not been placed from Day One because there was a fire in the factory of the company which was to produce and supply the bins. . .
There is clearly a need for knowledgeable citizens to engage in public and neighbourhood issues.
Engage closely and professionally so as to encourage state and private agencies to plan, discuss and work alongside the community.
If we don't engage, then one avenue will be re-laid with red oxide hexagonal tiles, our crematoria will have gardens with Hawaiian shrubs and 2nd Main Road will be re-laid for the third time in five months!
I observed a few positive engagements this past week.
Residents of Kalakshetra Colony and Valmiki Nagar have begun to talk to Neel Metal to work out localised door-to-door garbage collection.
Residents in Valasarawakkam engaged the city police on local law and order issues.
We need to see more of such engagements.