March Newsletter

March 8, 2013

A lot has been happening in TC over the last month. Here is a glimpse at some of our latest work:

  • Beach Layer: Transparent Chennai, in collaboration with Reclaim our Beaches, has begun a new initiative to map Chennai’s beaches. TC is creating maps of the city’s beaches with toilet locations, informal urination spots, dustbins, dumpsters, trash accumulation sides, hawker areas, and other features, and looking at changes in usage through the day. These maps will help Reclaim our Beaches lobby the Corporation to install dust bins, public toilets and other much needed infrastructure along the beach. We invite individuals and groups to get involved with this initiative, as well as other groups to work with Transparent Chennai to create data for better advocacy work. You can view our new Elliot’s and Valmiki Nagar Beach maps under the Build a Map section of the site. Our Marina Beach map will be up soon. Please do contact us if you are interested in volunteering to collect this data.
  • Police Station Layer: One of TC’s newest layers – it gives you information on police stations all over the city, including details such as address, phone number, name of the contact person for the station, as well as tells you which ones are women’s, city and suburban stations.
  • Meeting with the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD): Transparent Chennai presented its research findings on sanitation in Chennai to the Ms. E. P. Nivedita, Director at the Urban School Sanitation Intiative at the MoUD. The research and
    findings were well-received and TC hopes to work closely with the MoUD
    in the future.
  • TC at Pecha Kucha: TC got an overwhelming response at the most recent Pecha Kucha Night, held in Chennai, where they presented the website, research and data. Many interested audience members stepped up to volunteer and work with us. We hope this encourages more members in the community to collect data and work towards improving our city!

Our Blog – The Chennai Kaleidoscope

TC maintains a blog, where team members actively write about ongoing data collection and projects, upcoming events, urban issues, city-related news, etc (read it here). The Chennai Kaleidoscope is an informal platform that allows the TC team, as well as the public to communicate with each other and comment/discuss on urban issues. We encourage our users to utilize this platform by actively reading, commenting and guest blogging. Please contact us if you would like to use our blog as a tool to communicate with other residents in the city.

Here is a glimpse of some of our recent posts:

:: Why is sanitation lacking in Indian cities? ::

The Government of India launched the National Urban Sanitation Policy in 2008 to achieve 100 per cent sanitation coverage in Indian cities. Why is the situation in Indian cities so bad despite the amount of money that has gone into City Sanitation Plans? Read more on our blog.

:: Mapping and Community Participation ::

This post discusses how the lack or absence of data on fisher folk has held the community back from expressing themselves and fighting for their rights over their coastal space. In an effort to overcome this gap in data, the TC team involved the Urur and Olcott fishing communities in a participatory mapping exercise. Read more about this initiative.

:: The Rag Picker Community and its place in Waste Management ::

This excerpt from Media Voice Magazine discusses the role of the informal sector in solid waste management. Rag pickers are a crucial part of the waste cycle, as they retrieve recyclables from waste, thereby reducing the quantity of garbage that ends up in dump sites and the environmental impact due to waste generation.

:: Who is responsible for our roads? ::

Many of us are under the assumption that the Corporation of Chennai is in charge of construction and maintenance of all roads in the city. But this is not true. A TC member has extensively researched the topic of transportation in Chennai and found that the Highway Department has taken over maintenance of several important roads in the city. There are many other agencies who also work on roads to provide electricity, water supply and drainage, etc. So, whom does one contact in order to file complaints about our roads? Read more about this issue!

Upcoming Events!

Mapping workshop for school children: TC is holding a workshop for 8th standard students at the Olcott School. The workshop is designed to help students understand the concept of mapping and how it can be used as a powerful tool for advocacy. TC is looking for volunteers to help us out with preparing lesson plans and teaching. The workshop will be heldover four sessions. Our first session is scheduled for Saturday, March 5th. Please contact us if you would be interested in helping us out with this exciting outreach initiative.

Shanti Colony Walking Audit: 4th Avenue in Shanti Colony, is primarily a residential road in Annanagar, that is slowly transforming  into a commercial zone with heavy traffic. Seven main roads crisscross the avenue, carrying traffic from the 2nd avenue and Poonamallee High Road. The road has no traffic signals and is an accident hot spot. Additionally, the planned underground metro rail through 2nd Avenue is expected to increase traffic on this road. TC intends to do a walk audit involving the resident welfare associations and road users to analyze the road, sidewalk, traffic and the street elements. We intend to have a public meeting for residents to express their concerns and create a proposal for a walkable Shanti Colony. TC plans to invite the ward councilor and the road safety committee to the meeting. TC has also created a land-use and density map and is looking for volunteers to document the sidewalks and the street elements on this road.