May 19, 2012

Mayor, get people of Chennai involved

Mayor Saidai Duraiswamy is nowadays seen distributing laptops to school students or switching on high-mast street lighting.

But it would also be good for the Head of the City Fathers to join the neighbourhood kids at a football match or sit on Elliots Beach and share buttermilk with young volunteers who have just cleaned the beachfront.

He could keep aside the pressed dhoti and come by in Bermudas this summer.

The line to open with the city's community and its neighourhoods is also through fellowship and informal meetings in the coolest of places.

For, a Mayor like Duraiswamy carries the aspirations and desires of a growing, modern metro.

He can hint to the city's young community of his willingness to work alongside it because it can achieve two things - creates spaces for the young to also contribute ideas and plans and strengthen bonds between the city's civic body and its people.

Here is one opportunity.

The Chennai Corporation proposes to re-paint or erect new street name boards.

Can the Mayor and his Commissioner open up this idea to invite ideas on a key civic feature and will it accept one great idea?

Today, we have those gaudy yellow cement and iron name boards that turn and angle the way that street corner behaves. Planting them at corners is no good. Yes?

They compete with garbage bins, cattle and abandoned cars. They become supports for the sun shades of our elaneer or keerai hawkers. They droop and drop off in a  year or get knocked down by tipsy bikers.

Can the Mayor ask young designers to submit new designs here?

In Bangalore, metal street name boards are in green and even carry the names of the local Ward councillors and their contact numbers. They are hung from posts placed at every street corner at heights of eight feet.

In Mumbai, the metal-ceramic name boards hang from posts that are tall and enable us to read the names from afar.

Abroad, many civic bodies use walls of streetend houses or stores to display the street names. They can even choose from a selection of designs.

Chennai's Mayor can and must get into communities. Tap their talents. Get the young involved. For street signs, public art, green campaigns, heritage projects.

How about launching with Skrat and Anil Srinivasan concerts on the lawns of Ripon Buildings ( hopefully the Metro has not swallowed all that land!).

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