Despite heavy rains, this Thiruvanmiyur road saw no flooding; here’s why!

One citizen's angst and sustained action towards footpath and storm water drain cleaning and redesign ensured a clear road even as many parts of Chennai were in knee-deep water.

The 18-cm rainfall that lashed the metropolis (Nungambakkam station) on Thursday and Friday  has left many arterial roads in bad shape. Knee-deep water, loose electrical wires and potholes are a common sight in the city now.

At a time when the city’s poor civic infrastructure and lack of planning is all too evident, it is a pleasant surprise to be on this one road in Thiruvanmiyur, which looks clean and almost dry, and that too within half an hour of  the downpour.

A view of the stagnated Radhakrishnan Nagar Main Road during 2015 floods. Pic: Geeta Padmanabhan

Dr Radhakrishnan Nagar Main Road, connecting Kalakshetra Road and M G Road is not a ‘high profile road’, or the address of prominent politicians or officers. The same road had in fact been marooned during the December 2015 floods, but the reality today is vastly different because it now has a comprehensive storm water drain network and a safe footpath, thanks to the dedicated efforts of a citizen.

Meet Geeta Padmanabhan, a septuagenarian from the locality, whose perseverance has saved more than 3000 families and many more commuters the harrowing flood experiences that so many other Chennaites have faced ever since the northeast monsoon set in. Residents who woke up on Friday morning expecting to wade through the waters were surprised to see the clear road.

After the devastation witnessed during the December 2015 floods, Geeta, a journalist, decided to counter the inaction of the Greater Chennai Corporation by taking charge herself, thus setting the wheels of change in motion. The footpath Of Dr Radhakrishnan Nagar Main Road, which ran above the stormwater drain, was at that time taken up by  illegal ramps, junction boxes and manholes.  

Clearing the footpaths

Geeta is also the secretary of the newly formed association called RMSM (Dr Radhakrishnan Nagar, Malaviya Avenue, Sivakamipuram, Marundeeswarara Avenue) Peoples Security and Welfare Association. Her fight, however, wasn’t easy. Recollecting the struggle, she says, “The footpath work was incomplete when the 2015 December rains lashed the city. The house owners who had constructed the illegal ramps ganged up against me when I had them removed, and began to abuse me online and offline. I stood my ground, got the engineers to visit the place and made them follow my design.”  

An architect couple from the neighborhood – N Deviprasad and Kavitha Prasad – played a major role by designing the road and changing it in accordance with the corporation’s plan. “They didn’t charge a penny for doing it. Their contribution to the project is invaluable,” Geeta says, in a grateful tone.

From the contractor to the corporation commissioner, she was constantly in touch with all the concerned officials to ensure the completion of the work undertaken.  “I visited the office many times and kept calling them to inspect the locality,” she added.

Work on the footpaths was completed by June last year, after which she got the existing storm water drains repaired. “The drain has been around for decades. I just got portions of it redone and had a new one made at the S-bend to ensure smooth flow of water. The footpath runs on top, facilitating walking on this busy road. Either way, it is a win-win situation,” she pointed out.

Redesigning the storm water drain

Besides pursuing the officials, Geeta personally monitored the storm water drain work, ensuring that it got connected to a proper recharging medium. It is now well connected to the one on MG road from where the water moves towards Indira Nagar to escape into the Buckingham canal.  In response to her calls, the assistant engineer at Chennai Corporation has cleared the holes leading into the storm water drain in Sivakamipuram.

Never say die

Geeta Padmanabhan

Drain repair was just one part of the job. In the run up to that, Geeta also got an old transformer, which was blocking the footpath, relocated to a safer place.

“It took me two years to get this simple task done. After that, I fought with the corporation for a footpath before they laid the road. It was a long and sustained fight at many levels. I submitted blueprints, brought corporation engineers to visit the area, quoted the Indian Road Congress rules and visited the Chennai Corporation several times to have the task completed,” explains Geeta.

So what is her success mantra? A staunch believer in the power of citizen participation, she says, “Never give up. Know the rules and learn about the duties and responsibility of the civic body. Click pictures and submit them with cogent arguments and demand action. It is taxpayers’ money that is used and we should always fight shoddy work.”


  1. Chitra Sundarraman says:

    Exemplary! Kudos to Geetha Padmanabhan and her ilk.

  2. RK Nagar Resident says:

    This is the most distorted article I’ve read in a long time and it has left me laughing in the floor. Fact is that this Geeta Padmanabhan who is mentioned in the article has done nothing but hamper the efforts of the elected representatives. I invite the reporter Ms Laasya Shekhar to come over to the mentioned area, pick a few random houses and inquire the veracity of the claims made by this woman. Incidentally this Geeta Padmanabhan was kept away from all activities by a unanimous vote by the residents. She has been venomous against us all since, so much so that I need to post this anonymously or else this woman who has all the time in the world will go lodge a complaint at the police station just to harass me. Truth must triumph.. Please cross check

    • Murali says:

      If what u say is right, then r u not even sharing ur name ?

    • vishwanath sriram says:

      Dear rk nagar all, First of all on reading all reviews
      I surmised that ego clash is the most venomous tool to scuttle any good cause.
      Tell me her address not to inform her but to know the real success of the endeavour.
      I have the similar problems at Alwarpet and I need ur assistance to get my area too doneup. My apartment complex is noted for waterlogs up-to hip level. OK respond and call me at this no:9840391402. Don’t be hostile be gentle.

      • RK Nagar Resident says:

        Sir this is no ego clash. I’m voicing the truth in the face of fake news. The credit for all that she claims to have done actually goes to multiple people from the association. The lady really has done nothing

  3. M MAHESWARI says:

    Excellent and inspiring. Thank you for reporting

  4. Dr.T.D.Babu says:

    At a time when most of the people are losing confidence and faith witnessing negative things around and in media, such positive stories will certainly bring confidence among the public and will start to believe “It is still possible to bring the Change we need, if we are determined”. It wasn’t a cakewalk for Geeta. She had to face many challenges from all possible quarters and even from her own neighbours and a few association members, who currently enjoys the benefits of her hard work. As a lady she had to face many humiliation too. Nothing stopped her. This is something younger generations should learn from this proactive septuagenarian. We all say the future is in the hands of our youth. I think selfless social conscious seniors such as Geeta pave safe path for youths to lead our society in future!!!

  5. Sameera says:

    Great work Ms.Geetha..we need more people like you..hats off!!

  6. Lakshmikanthan says:

    Good responsible dedicated learned citizen with public interest.

  7. Nagarajan says:

    Every citizen should be like septuagenarian Geetha to get the problems solved. I bow my head as a mark of respect.

  8. ramjiyahoo says:

    wonderful useful news, thanks Laasya. The drain has been around for decades. I just got portions of it redone and had a new one made at the S-bend to ensure smooth flow of water. The footpath runs on top, facilitating walking on this busy road

  9. Raja 652 says:

    Next time come to 54 cross street back side of RTO office you will see water going into homes in tiruvanmiyur

    • Ranga Swamy says:

      It used to be an open land during 80s. Whenever it rained, water used to get collected in the three near by lakes. One lake, Raja Garden, has been filled in and now I see buildings. This lake was in Kottivakam/Srinivasapuram. The other lake was on the opposite side of the road. Sasi and Jayalalitha had build big multistory apartment. The third lake was behind the milk booth, not sure if it is still there. Now my question is why did the RTO office come there and hence we are all suffering.

  10. Krishnamoorthy says:

    Madam Geeta Padmanabhan, my humble pranams to you for ur splendid achievement. When the elected politicians never bother abt the people’s(who elected them) welfare, & only concentrate to make money for their family, ur untired efforts in keeping ur area & other nearby areas safe needs great appreciations. Hope atleast after seeing ur achievement government wakes up. Once again my sincere pranams to you & all those who stood with you in this achievement.

  11. Avid Citizen says:

    Great effort by Ms.Padmanabam. Efforts have shown results. Thank you Ms.Shekhar in penning this article. You have done a good job in initiating the awareness.

  12. Pravin says:

    Hats Off to the spirit

  13. V s satagopan says:

    Well done madam. Regds.

  14. Anantha Padmanabhan says:

    Yes this illegal ramp is a real hindrance to the common man. It is universal and even “OFFICERS OF THE COURT, PUBLIC FIGURES AND INDUSTRIALISTS AND EVERYONE indulges in it.



    Dear madam kudos to your efforts.May people in the adjoining areas take cue n help from your experience and replicate the same with sincerity and may this turn into a citizen event.

  16. Senthil Kumar Sivasamy says:

    Great effort and hats off to Ms.Geeta Padmanabhan,a facility which by default has to reach the citizens, came after a long fight and after running from pillar to post. Heartening to see that a single person with the help of like minded people could pull this off.

  17. Ramprakash says:

    Great work – kudos and congratulations. We need to share and celebrate these success stories, this will encourage more citizens to actively participate in resolving important issues.

  18. Jaishree P says:

    Hi Laasya, interesting and inspiring info. Can you pls share your number. I work for a mag called Rotary News – a Mag for Rotarian. Am interested in publishing this story in our Mag. My no: 9600955602

  19. Tilak Arun Nagalingam says:

    Meticulous planning and a sense of social responsibility.. Kudos to Geeta madam..also kudos to the architect couples..let’s take them as role models in our society for a better India..

  20. S VENKATARAMAN says:


  21. T. V. Balasubramanian says:

    Really hats off to Mrs Geetha Padmanaban for her efforts. Now each and every one in Thiruvanmiyur are enjoying the benefits. A road without stagnated water is really unbelievable. Instead of appreciating her selfless efforts for a common cause, even after seeing the results, some selfish people, are throwing abusive words on her, without mentioning their own contribution. Even they (not mentioned their name) did not touch even the topic, menace, suggestion for improvement. Not even offering lip service atleast. Madam. Please, don’t get disheartened, ignore all these selfish obstacles and concentrate on your efforts to improve our environment. We are here to support you.

  22. Suraj C says:

    I am a resident of Sriram Nagar cross street which is adjacent to Radhakrishnan main road.With all due respect to Mrs. Geetha and for her great efforts,I would like to add that whatever this article claims is only partly true with respect to the water draining to a greater extent the next day which had happened almost in all the areas in Chennai,however when I was riding back my bike home the previous night,I had tough time riding the bike on the Radhakrishnan Main Road as the rainfall had waterlogged the area to knee deep level.

  23. Venkata says:

    This is not the effort of single woman Geetha padmanabhan.this is collective effort by the residents of radhakrishnan Nagar road.they filed innumerable petitions with commissioner. They had signature compaign.they had staged so many, don’t say that only one person is responsible for this.i stay adjacent to radhakrishnan Nagar. I have seen my friends who r residents of radhakrishnan Nagar road taking so many pains of getting this done. Laasya Shekhar,I suggest u come and meet all the residents and set the facts is really painful to see one individual walking away with all accolades while it is a collective and combined effort. As I know Ms.geetha padmanabhan through a common friend I don’t want to give my name.

  24. Rishi Raj Singh says:

    Great effort ma’am. More than the citizens, I hope this work puts some sense into the city officials who’s primary job is to do all this. As far as troubling neighbours are concerned, you will find such fools in every nook and corner. Let them bark. I hope this story is widely shared and reaches each and every city/ town corporation, not for knowledge, but for them to hang their heads in shame for the conditions are no different in most of the other towns.

  25. Another RK Nagar Resident says:

    It is unconscionable that any one would attempt to hog all the credit for something that she was, ironically, the single, most detractor of. Roll back to several months from this sham that is foisted on the unsuspecting as an inspirational piece of journalism:- “When a septuagenarian can, why can’t you ?”
    Laasya Shekar, you have got it wrong, line, hook and sinker and/or were fed a whole bunch of hoopla by a self-centred, necrotic individual who is dying for some cheap publicity for no reason whatsoever. Sorry, your article stinks.

    Several months ago, before the Big Rains of last year’s Dr S Radhakrishnan Nagar and its neighbouring areas of Sri Ram Nagar, Shanthi Colony, LIC Colony, Malavya Avenue, etc., were more infamous for the state of disrepair and apathy in the public infrastructure and civic amenities; be it the roads, pedestrian walk-ways, storm water drainage, garbage bins, you-name-it; the Big rains came; the entire area hemmed between MG Road on the North and Kalakshetra Road on the South, LB Road on West and Lakshmipuram on the East was in a tight gridlock of a low-lying area, poor drainage and every conceivable hurdle to normal human dwelling. The entire area of nearly 5 Sq.Km., impacting well over 5000 families was floating as it were on knee-deep water for days on end. With no electricity, erratic water supply and other civic woes to boot, fear of rapid spread of water-borne diseases, and residents unable to wade through water to even procure essentials, we had no where to go because the rest of the city was in similar dire straits if not worse.

    Then stepped in a dedicated bunch of assorted volunteers; they worked relentlessly to drain the water, worked non-stop for days together, took turns only to grab a bite or change in to dry clothes; worked we did as a team and supported each other without fuss or let; spent from our pockets and supported the Big Cause by every possible means, all like a big family. We met the officers of various departments all the way up to the Commissioners, Secretaries of the State, Chief Secretary and the CM’s Cell; we even carried out a silent protest on the busy LB Road one morning at peak traffic hour to draw the attention of the officials until we were politely asked by the Police to move back. Truth be told, everyone of these officials inspected our area, stepped up their efforts and organized massive support from the government machinery; our kudos and sincere appreciation to them. The band of volunteers worked relentlessly with various arms of the government and over the months have brought back many of the civic amenities to our area; we now have good roads, the storm water drainage is working, the pedestrian pathway has been fixed, street lights are good and so forth.

    To top it all, we recently installed 40 CC Cameras to bolster security and safety in our streets from voluntary contributions of the residents. There’s more good that we are constantly thinking of and these will be achieved in the days ahead all on the wings of unalloyed volunteerism and sheer joy of altruism. Not an iota of selfishness or publicity for any one of us.

    Therefore, it is a cruel joke for us to read your article that is based entirely on crass falsehood, unbridled anxiety to project one individual who had nothing to do with any of the things that you have enumerated (and several other positives that you have missed out on) and more than all pathetic journalism where you have gone to press without verification. And sadly, that very same individual had been a source of impediments and constant source of annoyance to one and all with her names-dropping, me-knows-it-all, I-did-this; I-did-that, when in fact she did damn all nothing; all in exchange for the strenuous efforts of photo-ops that she unfailingly captured, which was all she did. Disgusting.

    Long live the unsung volunteers of our area who deserve all the credit and kudos of the neighbours and the blessings and grace from Him above; Volunteers: You are us; we are with you, all the way! Hurrah to the collective efforts of every single resident that volunteered and continues to involve themselves through every means at their disposal. Self-centred and publicity seeking individuals and ignoramus journalists that prop them can go where they need to/wish to.

  26. R.Venkateswaran says:

    Kudos to Madam Geetha. Really a fantastic achievement and an eye opener to the younger generation. Madam Geetha took this as a great opportunity and made the task so simple and created awareness among the people. Those who are living in Chennai for generations know that Chennai is prone to get heavy rainfall once in 4 years. Instead of talking and criticising the government, Madam Geetha took a wise decision to act against all odds. It is a great lesson to youngsters and elders. We, the citizens of Greater Chennai have a great responsibility to play our part within our limitations. We have to take a pledge to preserve water bodies and reservoirs. Water is a precious commodity and our life source. We should not allow rain water to go waste. Nobody knows the value of Rain Water Harvesting inspite of repeated requests from government agencies. We are doing the same mistake year after year without knowing the value of preservation of water. Hereafter the government should take stringent action against those who are violating the laws and build houses across water courses. The government should also make RWH mandatory to all households in Tamilnadu. Desilting of rivers and reservoirs are to be done periodically by the government’s concerned to avoid flooding and wastage of water. We, as the residents of Chennai, should always remember the 2015 December flooding in our mind and we have to get things done only by way of collective efforts. Madam Geetha showed us the way as a guidance. This is the right time we have to wake up quickly and act. Thank you Madam Geetha for your stupendous task.

  27. Harikumar S says:

    hats off you to Madam. You have done a great job. It would be great if other residents associations also follow suit. Waiting for the govt and corpn to do what we need is not worth

  28. Vineetha says:

    Thank you mam…you are role model for all of us

  29. Suresh Harirao says:

    Pl give madam geetha padmanaban email id

  30. Suresh Harirao says:

    Pl give madam geetha email id

  31. Lily Mitra Noble says:

    Dear Geetha , Hats off to your achievements regarding the storm water drains which successfully drained the water from our area(Sivakamipuram) during the heavy rains and we could witness a ‘Never have seen before’ clear roads during the rains. You will always have our cooperation and support in your future endeavour also.

  32. Sriram Nagar resident says:

    This is most ridiculous article I’ve read. Resident volunteers of RK nagar should have felt bad when read this.

    Geetha padhbanaban had nothing to do with this to renovate the main road.

  33. S.keerthivasan says:

    Super madam, My sincere wishes to your good effort.Pls think of a grand network of good social service minded people

  34. Responsible RK Nagar resident says:

    It is sick that few residents can’t accept the success story of Geeta. I accept that the Association participated in the protest emanding good civic infrastructure. But why didn’t the members of the association continue the struggle? Why has the association gone defunct now ? Heights of intolerance.

  35. Responsible RK Nagar resident says:

    Few residents were envious when the then corporation commissioner, Vikram Kapur inspected the locality and praised Geeta for her dedicated efforts. They couldn’t take the fact that a ‘woman’has come to the limelight, through her genuine service

  36. RK Nagar Resident says:

    ‘@ Responsible RK Nagar resident – First off, if you really were a resident, you’ll not be saying what you did coz you’d know the truth is otherwise. You admitting to just the association protest is meaningless so you might as well accept the association did everything else too, including redesigning the flawed footpath that was Geeta’s legacy, with 21 storm water inlets buried. Where did you pull out the ‘association is defunct’ story? The association is stronger than ever having set up 40 CCTV cameras all over the area for security. Of course I’m guessing your source Geeta Padmanaban wouldn’t have told you that lest her lies become apparent. Unless you are Geeta herself writing anonymously. Fact is that she has done nothing good and worse still she was a source of impediment at every step, putting hurdles in the way of the association members. If she deserved accolades we’d all gladly give it to her but it’s just unbelievable that she would shamelessly take credit for things she never did. You should ask around the area and you’ll know what the truth is.

  37. Because Truth Matters says:

    Forwarding you all a message from Sh N S Srinivasa Gandhi, one of the Founder Presidents of the Association (the other founders being Sh S Venkatraman and Late K Seshan) – “I had come across a news item a few days back wherein credit was claimed, of course undeservedly, by one Geetha Padmanaban for the excellent pre-monsoon efforts initiated by the current office bearers the singular result of which is the amazing cleanliness and non-stagnation of water. I have been a personal witness to the Corporation officials driving the workers to do all required work well in time – again at the instance of the current team of office bearers who are enjoying and maintaining an excellent rapport with all who matter. Heartiest compliments to the team.”

  38. Ambika says:

    That’s wonderful to hear. Wish the rest of the city also wakes up early and take initiatives to make space for water conservation. It serves double purpose – 1. Potable drinking water 2. Prevent flooding

    Hats off Geetha mam.

  39. rekha says:

    hats of geetha madam, you have done a great job you are a role model of youth generation. you have learnt to polictical leaders

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

City Buzz: Demand for NEET probe | Heatwaves continue to kill… and more

In other news: MoHUA bats for rainwater harvesting, 100 million-plus cities by 2050, and 21 lakh air pollution deaths, says a new report.

Demand for NEET probe Even as multiple cases of malpractices from Godhra, Patna and other parts of the nation mire the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET-UG) 2024 exam for medical and allied courses, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on June 20th said that isolated incidents of malpractices should not affect lakhs of students who had rightfully cleared the examination. The government is expected to set up a high-level panel to look into the functioning of the National Testing Agency (NTA). The Supreme Court had sought responses from the Centre, the NTA and others on petitions seeking cancellation of the…

Similar Story

Walking in their shoes: How cities can include senior citizens in planning

IIT-Bombay and design firm Dig-Design have come together to create an 'age empathy suit' meant to simulate conditions of ageing.

“My grandfather is 88 years old. Like other senior citizens, he used to go for long walks, but now he can’t. Often, he doesn’t tell us how he feels because he doesn’t want to bother us. Going through this experience of wearing the empathy suit, which simulates challenges faced by older people, is very helpful. It's not that we don’t know about the issues, but experiencing them first hand provides a better understanding,” says Amod. He is referring to a wearable empathy suit being developed at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay that communicates the experiences of older citizens…