The thing you immediately notice the first time you enter the Pestom Sagar colony at Chembur are its clean streets — something we’re not used to in this city.
This residential precinct is the textbook example of how much citizens can do to improve the area they live in, with some help from the municipal corporation.
Over the last 18 years, the Pestom Sagar Citizens’ Forum (PSCF) — a non-governmental organisation formed by its residents – has transformed the area into the model neighbourhood.
Housing over 2,500 families, it is characterised by its clean streets, green cover, flourishing garden, joggers’ park and playground, all the result of PSCF’s work.
“The basic idea behind starting this forum was to engage the citizens in improving their locality. Most people expect the municipality to take care of their area, but there’s a limit to what the municipality can do, especially with such rapidly rising population,” said Dr Sandeep Rane (51), chairman and one of the founders of the forum.
Part of the BMC’s Advanced Locality Management plan, the forum works along with the municipality to address the area’s civic issues. Apart from hiring staff to keep their streets clean through the day, the forum also maintains a local playground and a garden, and organises a number of events through the year.
These include an annual medical check for senior citizens in the area, including those from slums nearby.
Its other activities include an annual drawing competition, a sports meet, a community meet, flag hoisting on Independence Day and Republic Day, and a tree-planting programme in the monsoon.