CITIZEN JOURNALISM

Our collaborative model enables urban citizens to not just learn but also engage and contribute their insights and learning as citizen journalists. Across cities, there are remarkable initiatives of citizens, not just activists, Resident Welfare Association (RWA) members and lay volunteers becoming "active citizens" - getting involved in various civic projects from rejuvenating lakes to initiating waste segregation to auditing footpath infrastructure. This section documents their experiences, helping these “doers” share learnings and insights and amplifying citizen voice. We are grateful to Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies for part supporting the Civic Changemaking and Citizen Journalism Programme.

Throughout the year, vegetable shops and markets are stocked with select vegetables and produce that form our diets. This produce is grown in large scale farms and sold across the country despite geographic and seasonal variations. But 23rd June was an aberration for some of us, who spent time at the Hirvya Devachi Yatra. We got in touch with forest foods that grow in the wild, people who harvest them and make delicacies out of these.  The Hirvya Devachi Yatra was organised this year by the Shramik Mukti Sanghatana, Van Niketan, Ashwamedh Pratisthan and INTACH Thane Chapter. It has been…

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In recent years, the resettlement sites in Chennai have become areas of concern due to many infrastructure and safety challenges affecting their residents. People in resettlement sites like Perumbakkam, Semmencherry, Kannagi Nagar, and other places grapple with problems of inadequate water supply, deteriorating housing quality, insufficient police presence, lack of streetlights and so on. In Part 2 of the two-part series on women-led safety audits of resettlement sites, we look at the findings of the recent audits and recommend improvements and policy changes.         Here are some of the key findings of the safety and infrastructure audits in the resettlement…

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Safety is a fundamental necessity for all, particularly for women, children, young people, elders, persons with disabilities, gender-diverse groups, and other vulnerable sections of society. This basic need fosters a sense of inclusion and enables active participation in family, community, and societal activities. Enhanced safety promotes mobility, physical and mental wellness, employability and financial independence. It supports autonomy in decision-making, including decisions related to reproductive health. It also encourages increased social engagement and participation in governance. Improved safety in personal, professional, and community spaces works as a catalyst for empowerment and reduces systemic gender disparities. In Part 1 of a…

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Every year, Chennai experiences severe flooding, with cars being washed away, homes submerged, and residents navigating waterlogged streets. One of the affected areas is Chitlapakkam, situated amidst three lakes — Chitlapakkam, Seliyur, and Rajakilpakkam — on Chengalpettu's agricultural lands. Due to its proximity to these water bodies, Chitlapakkam suffers extensive flooding during Chennai's intense monsoon. We at Chitlapakkam Rising, along with the Water Resources Department (WRD) and Tambaram Corporation have worked on flood mitigation measures such as the construction of  ‘macro cut-and-cover drains’ around the lake, to drain out surplus water during floods. We even initiated the construction of a…

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Illegal dumping of garbage, cement, construction debris, and other waste has become rampant all over Chennai, despite existing regulations. Many wetlands and water bodies in and around the city are shrinking due to indiscriminate disposal of waste materials, which harms the local flora and fauna. Blocking canals and wetlands with debris can also result in flooding of nearby areas. I first observed cement residue being dumped into the Buckingham Canal on June 11th this year, and this continued till June 15th. The dumping appears to be originating from various infrastructure development activities, particularly from the construction of apartments on TNHB…

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It is 11:30 in the morning, Aarif (name changed), a vegetable vendor in KR Market, looks ahead, braving the searing summer heat, while waiting for customers. After a long time, a customer finally approaches him and asks for the rate of green chillies. As the day inches towards noon, the footfall in the market starts decreasing. Arif, who primarily sells chillies and ginger, says: “In about 1-2 hours, customers will start decreasing, but we will still sit in hope of getting more customers. We have to do something for survival. No matter how strong the sun is, we have to…

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Most of us in Mumbai, eat mangoes daily during summer. In my society at Goregaon East, some of the residents and I decided to collect mango seeds from our neighbours. We gave them to Mission Green Mumbai, an NGO Mumbai, which takes care of planting the seeds for a greener society.  When I first saw the video on saving mango seeds posted by the NGO, almost a year ago, I thought it was a wonderful idea. It has been a year since we started working on this, and so far we have managed to collect around 2500 seeds.  How did we…

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Bengaluru has experienced extreme weather fluctuations this year. After a severe heatwave, the city enjoyed a brief respite with heavy showers, resulting in a record 111.1 mm of rainfall earlier this month. While Bengaluru received excess rainfall, the rest of the state is grappling with a 38% monsoon deficit, affecting water storage levels in reservoirs. The city is still facing water shortage despite heavy rains. In this multi-part series, analysts at the OpenCity water datajam, examined the level of water security (or lack thereof) in the areas/wards and provided insight into the redressal mechanisms: Part 1: Is your neighbourhood ‘water-secure’?…

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“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…

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(In Part 1, data analysts explained how they arrived at a definition of water security. In Part 2, the analysts explained the methodology used in estimating the Cauvery index and the results have been obtained. In continuation, part 3 will explain the methodology used in estimating the remaining indices and its results) Groundwater index Borewell count: The OpenCity borewell dataset was used to map borewells into Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) wards and compute the number of borewells per ward. Assuming an average yield of 5,000 litres/day, water supply from borewells was normalised with ward population and the wards were…

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