Hyderabad: Cities are conceptualized around growth. This has been the justification for urbanization and the shift of focus from rural to urban. The city is considered a showcase of the prosperity of a nation, not the village. The city is also the location of dreams of a better life, a just society, and good governance. Just based on the high tax collection and budget spending, cities must represent the best of what a nation can do. But does that happen in India?

Every nation is proud of its cities. And for good reasons. Which city is India proud of? There are parts of every city that are perfect, and that is because of the local residents who might be either influentially rich or politically powerful. The roads rarely flood where the rich live, and the lights never go out where the ministers stay. The powerless, in contrast, live a much-diminished life amidst various degrees of squalor. Cities discriminate based on infrastructure. Urbanization is reduced to a mere location and not defined by the quality of life.

Hyderabad is no exception. It is a city with complex and layered challenges that require participatory and patient redressal. Every problem is a composite of several smaller parts that impact the lives of citizens. To give one example, the rain havoc of 2020 demarcated a clear problem to which there were several clear solutions. One of which was the Strategic Nala Development Plan which failed to get neither the support nor the funds envisaged.

But in the past few days of September 2021, yet another, and more worrying aspect of the city, has come to light. Open drains on city roads and footpaths have already claimed the life of a 35-year-old software employee in the Manikonda area. Another person, a 52-year-old man, remains untraced since he fell in the drain a few days ago. This is not the first time such accidents have taken place. They are yearly occurrences during the heavy rains. Two young children were killed when they fell in nallahs which cut across the city. Inadequate retaining walls around these nallahs were the cause of these accidents.


To better understand the civic problems of Hyderabad and to work on possible solutions, Hakku Initiative, a Hyderabad-based research initiative under the Institute of Perception Studies, New Delhi, was set up in February 2021. The slogan and belief of the organization is "Mana Hakku Mana Hyderabad" (Our Right, Our Hyderabad) and "Mana Hakku Mana Telangana" (Our Right, Our Telangana).

The Hakku Initiative has conceptualized and implemented solutions through campaigns, designed around COVID help, monsoon-preparedness, garbage disposal, among others. The outreach of the research has been through the Hakku Channel, a YouTube channel launched in August 2021. The Hakku Channel is India's only campaign-based non-news channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/hakkuchannel/videos).

The Hakku Campaigns that have made a difference to date are on sanitation workers of Hyderabad, unemployed teachers, eco-friendly Ganesha idols, garbage disposal awareness, among others. Hakku Channel has also coordinated with the government authorities in getting Ms. Rajani, a former sanitation worker with a degree in M.Sc Chemistry, a position in the GHMC as an assistant entomologist under the Urban Malaria Scheme.

On open drains, Hakku research has revealed the following findings –some drains are left uncovered from an earlier time and citizen complaints have not been addressed; maintenance work has been undertaken but it is yet to be finished; the covers have fallen into the drain and need to be replaced; they have been kept partially open to prevent flooding of the area.

As a solution, a recent Hakku Campaign, #CloseDrainsSaveLives, was launched to urge the authorities to close the open drains or at least barricade them and protect citizens. The campaign also invites people to share videos, images, and locations of open drains so that this can be shared in the public interest. Citizens have been participating by sending information and this has led to some drains being closed. This solution-based approach will continue on various other issues as well and is aimed at bringing immediate as well as long-term improvement in the lives of ordinary people.

Important links:

Share info on open drains at: 7842611055

See past campaign at: https://www.youtube.com/c/hakkuchannel/videos

Interact and comment at: https://twitter.com/HakkuInitiative

Dr. Kota Neelima

Dr. Kota Neelima is an author and researcher, and heads the Institute of Perception Studies in New Delhi. The Institute’s Hakku Initiative/Hakku Channel are based in Hyderabad and focus on solution-oriented campaigns for people’s issues.

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