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N Dutta Marg ALM has gone that extra mile to make the road look great

What makes the N Dutta Marg seem like a walk in the park, especially when you compare it to its crowded and noisier cousin, the St Louis Road? A proactive ALM is the key.

Not only is the St Louis Road (Four Bungalows Road) choked with traffic most of the time, hawkers and filth make it a nightmare. In comparison, the N Dutta Marg is flanked by 35 housing societies, but doesn't have any of the mess. 

Instead, it's got trees and flowers, all thanks to the N Dutta Marg Advanced Locality Management - a model ALM that is celebrating its sixth anniversary this month.

Mrinalini Phatak, a member of the ALM says that the 'untiring and united' efforts of residents has helped it come this far. "We will complete six years on April 16, and have indeed come a very long way. In 2000, we were unaware of ALMs, but we had always wanted to clear this road of hawkers, drug peddlers and auto rickshaw drivers. And we found a way to do it," she says.

The results show. Six years later, ornamental plants and lush trees have replaced hawkers. So what brought this change?

"It was a collective effort," says Alexandrina Aiyar, another ALM member. "Mrinalini and I went from one building to another requesting societies to appoint two representatives each to discuss and find solutions to problems the area faces."

"Having done that we tried telling hawkers to vacate the road, but they wouldn't budge. Then, we approached the K-west ward office where we got to know about the ALM concept and the Saaf Aangan Scheme. We were told that societies can adopt areas outside their building compounds and be responsible for their maintenance," she says.

Residents got a common design for flowerbeds and pots approved by the BMC and started spreading information about garbage segregation - a mandatory municipal requirement for any ALM.

"We wanted to generate a buzz so that people become aware of the ALM," Aiyar says. "We painted boundary walls on the road and made model-composting pits where dry garbage is treated to make manure.

"This was done to tell people how simple and stink-free the process is. The societies have hired a boy to keep the road free of dirt and storm water drains free of garbage."

Phatak says, "What the ALM now wants is more people. We keep shifting our meeting venues each month expecting more people to join, but it is essentially a group of five women running the show."

The ALM has organised a dinner and dance and a cricket tournament for members on April 16.

Contact Alexandrina Aiyar on 26371719 and Mrinalini Phatak on 9819126168 for queries.

Publication:DNA;  Date:Apr 6, 2006;  Section:Zone; Page Number:9

It is one of the beautiful compensations of this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. --Charles Dudley Warner