Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December Music Season

Brahma Gana Sabha music festival, starts Dec. 3; would continue till Dec. 31, 2014; at Smt. Sivagami Pethachi Auditorium, Luz Church Road, Mylapore, Chennai - 4.
Daily donor passes are available at the venue.  Online booking at www.brahmaganasabha.com
For info. on musical happenings elsewhere this season, check -  http://www.chennaidecemberseason.com/p/schedules-2014.html

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Diwali at Hindustan University

It was nice of the Hindustan University director to have invited his neighbours,  Mantri Synergy apartments residents  to celebrate Diwali with students on the campus. Our apartments complex and the varsity campus share the same compound wall. Developing neighborly goodwill would of mutual advantage.
Mantri resident Mr Gopalan R , who got the call from the Hindustan University director, started working the phone to call up his friends and neighbours to mobilize, within hours , 20 odd residents to represent Mantri Synergy at the neighbourhood  campus. Getting so many, on a festival day,  at such short notice was a tough call, considering that many of us had guests at home, visiting to exchange greetings. Besides, Diwali evening is quality time that each of us would want to spend with family, at home.
On the Hindustan University campus we were received by Dean, Admin,, Brig. Dr. Ravi Verman (Retd.) , who led us to the campus soccer grounds, where students (hostelers) were bursting a riot of fire crackers. Bringing together neighbourhood residents and campus hostelers for Diwali celebrations was thoughtful of the university director Dr.Ashok Verghese  (whose idea it was). It gave the hostel students, who couldn’t go home to  their families, an opportunity to celebrate a festive occasion in a family environment.
The next time, on another festival day, it would be our turn to invite our neighbours over for a get-together. Socializing between neighbours promote healthy environment. As OMR Green member, I see this as an opening for us to involve our student neighbours in our OMR Green activities. Hopefully, Mr Gopalan would take this idea forward with his contacts at the Hindustan University faculty.

Reproduced  from My Take

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

OMR Greens trip to Muthukkadu

We are planning a visit to Muthukkadu Lake this Sunday, Oct.13.The idea arose from a suggestion by Hindustan University director, Mr Ashok Verghese. In response to OMR Greens mail on the need for conservation and develoment of Padur Lake, Mr Verghese came up with an additional agenda - to mobilise public support for infrastructure development at Muthukkadu Lake for yachting and sailing activities.
As a tentative first step towards this objective we propose to take a trip to explore the lay of the land around Muthukadu.
Programme for Muthukkadu trip
7.30 a m start from Mantri Synergy main gate
Sunday, Oct.13, 2013.

Monday, September 23, 2013

'No bargain' auto-rickshaw

Autorickshaw drivers have a reputation for fleecing customers. However, in recent days fare-paying passengers in Chennai  notice a refreshing change in auto-drivers. I have heard people saying they have sighted autos fitted with fare-meter ; and some, adding they have even traveled, paying the metered fare.

Such refreshing change may be partly due to a  raise in fare by the authorities. More than this, we have had a spurt in community groups - such as Namma Auto, Auto Raja and  Book My Call Auto - that are engaged in mobilizing auto-drivers, to adopt decent behaviour and fair practices. Anubhav  Agarwal, a computer professional, teaming up with sociologist Aishwarya Raman, to create the special interest group - Auto Raja - says over 200 auto drivers have signed up with their group.

They represent just a drop in the bucket, taking into account the thousands of Chennai autorickshaws, over 70 percent of which are not owner-driven.  Anubhav concedes that their work and mission can't be expected appeal to a majority of drivers, who hire vehicles, paying  hefty retainer to benami  vehicle owners.

The challenge faced by special interest groups such as AutoRaja  is in mobilizing a critical mass of Chennai auto drivers for adopting fair practices. As for fare-paying passengers, the challenge is in sighting a  metered autorickshaw. The Times of India reported seeing an auto-driver displaying the official rate card on his  wind shield. Another vehicle, the newspaper said,   had a 'No Bargain' sticker, citing officially prescribed rates.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Airport Metro-rail work not moving

Construction work on the Chennai OTA-Airport section of the metro-rail has been brought to a stand still, with the sacking of the contractors. They, presumably,deserved the sack much earlier, for their dismal pace of progress in work. With barely 8 months left for the April 2014 target the contractors - Lanco Infratech Ltd. - had 70 percent job unfinished when the Chennai Metro-Rail authorities chose to terminate the contract.

And, they say, it would take 3 to 4 months for them to finalize a fresh contractor. Upshot is an indefinite delay in project completion, well beyond the the April 2014 target. That the cost of the delay (who computes it, and how ?) would be borne by Lanco Infratech is no consolation for the travelling public. You and I have now no idea when the job on the 5-km metro-rail would get done, eventually.

We are accustomed to a state of affairs where completion of a contracted public project on time is more an exception than the rule. A more pertinent question is: why did Chennai Metro-Rail take so long to take action ? They wake up only months before the April 2014 target date, when the late-Latif of a contractors  have so much as 70 percent work yet to be done, on the metro-rail stretch between OTA and Airport.

What has the monitoring agency been doing till now ? Shouldn't Chennai Metro-rail officials responsible for shoddy monitoring be identified and penalized ? Maybe,  you can't touch their basic pay, but shouldn't their pay-hike and promotion be held up for the duration of the work delay ?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Dial-a-rickshaw service for OMR ?

Prompted by  a media write-up on Green Rickshaw, Mr Gopalan R and I did some loud thinking at OMR Greens meeting on Sat. at Mantri's front-lawns. Idea is  to promote dial-a-rickshaw service to cover short distances, between and within residential communities on OMR.

Navdeep Asija, founder of  Ecocabs, says a steel-frame, lighter weight three-wheeler that they have designed costs between Rs.13,500 and Rs.15,000 in Punjab. OMR Greens members could identify three unemployed local youths - in Padur-Kelambakkam area - willing  become self-employed owner-rickshaw operators, with help from OMR Greens. If an aspirant rickshaw-owner raises Rs.5,000 for a green rickshaw, OMR Greens could consider loaning him the other Rs.10,000, interest-free, and repayable on easy terms.

This is the Green Wheels programme that OMR Greens could initiate. To start with, we aspire to help  three unemployed local youth in getting rickshaws..The rickshaws, funded with OMR Greens loan, would be painted green, and carry Green Wheels logo. The rickshaw-owners would get the benefit of interest-free loan for promoting the green cause through their vehicle.

Loan requirement of Rs.30,000, for three rickshaws can be raised through contribution by OMR Greens members, repayable when rickshaw loans are repaid. If OMR Greeners are willing, their amounts can be ploughed back for helping some more unemployed youths.

Hopefully, the three green wheel, light-weight rickshaws we introduce in Padur-Kelambakkam area, would prompt others to introduce dial-a-rickshaw service elsewhere on OMR .

As of now, auto-rickshaws charge Rs.50 for a trip from Padur to kelambakkam; Rs.40 from Mantri gate to Chettinad Hospital; Rs.30 from Padur Hindustan University stand to X S Real apartments adjacent to Mantri synergy. If we  Green wheel rickshaws charge two-thirds of the auto-fare, it will still be to the advantage of both rickshaw-owner and his customers.