Chennai: Be it saving Chitlapakkam lake or conducting ‘Chitlapakkam Sangamam’ for giving residents an opportunity to express their innate talents, Sunil Jayaram residing near Tambaram in the city suburb is actively involved.
‘News Today’ spoke to this dynamic personality who passionately works to solve civic problems in the locality.
Here are excerpts from the interview:
Q: How did you enter social work?
A: I used to follow GoodNewsIndia.com and I’m a big fan of positive stories of good Samaritans by DV Sridharan on the website. I got in touch with organisations like The Ugly Indian and other NGOs that motivated me to start the volunteer organisation – Chitlapakkam Rising.
We started with sanitary activities like clearing garbage, and moved to painting and beautifying our area. Eventually, we started questioning bad civic work by the panchayat and municipalities. We try to address problems by filing PILs and meeting with authorities on issues like roads gaining height, drainage issues and garbage dumping in our lakes.
Q: What are the challenges one encounters doing social service?
A: There are many challenges. If it was easy, everyone would be doing social work and activism. Foremost is lack of intent from the public in demanding quality work in government projects that are done using our tax money.
Most people assume someone else will ask the questions for them. In our country, there are many things to crib about, but, very few people stand up and do something about it. Other challenges are in the form of officials and politicians who often go with the wrong-doers.
Q: Tell us about some memorable social service that you did?
A: The memorable ones are those that yielded great results. The Pallavaram flyover wall painting activity saw more than 200 volunteers coming from as far as Porur and Thiruvanmiyur to participate in the beautification.
We created iconic art works that we will cherish forever. On a larger scale, we were instrumental in enabling better livelihood for our conservancy workers and making sure the authorities follow road height regulations while laying new roads. The lake is also getting a second lease of life due to our volunteers efforts.
Q: What keeps you motivated and what are your future plans?
A: Our fellow volunteers and other NGOs are the biggest motivation. Though the percentage of people doing groundwork is small, we still do it for the betterment of our area.
As for future plans, we are creating focus groups to work paralllelly on issues such as saving water bodies, clearing encroachments on public spaces, RTE for our kids, spreading awareness on RTI and self-empowerment.
Our priority is to save the Chitlapakkam and Sembakkam lakes and to enable our residents to make use of them. We want to make Chitlapakkam water-rich and flood-free at the same time.
Sunil Jayaram resides at SBI Colony, Chitlapakkam. He can be reached at 95001 22151.