Put Your Hand Up

  • Shilpy Arora / FG
  • India
  • Nov 19, 2012




A day before Diwali, when most of the people were busy shopping with their families, the team of ‘I am Gurgaon’ conducted a meeting at the Bio-Diversity Park. In a small shaded area, a few like-minded people, working in different fields, met and discussed crucial civic issues of the City. “As most of us had a holiday that day, we decided to meet and discuss our projects,” said Latika Thukral, one of the founders of ‘I am Gurgaon’ (IAG) – a City-based NGO working in areas such as cleanliness, traffic management, infrastructure development, civic sense, water management, environmental awareness, and greenery.

A banker by profession, Latika quit her job some four years ago and devoted herself to the cause. She says that the City has a number of NGOs who talk about making a difference to society, but nobody takes the first step. “When we started off, the idea was to bring about a change in the City. We didn't want to just sit in an air-conditioned office and complain about littering, shortage of electricity, and bad roads. We work to bring about the change. We all are involved in cleaning the roads, planting trees, and taking up Public Private Partnerships with the Administration,” says Latika. Her single-minded initiative to make the City a livable place won her many followers. Today ‘I am Gurgaon’ has over 100 active members, who not only participate in the events conducted by IAG, but also come up with solutions to the civic issues affecting their area. Then, with the help of IAG, they take up these issues with the Administration.

IAG is credited with carrying out a major tree plantation drive at the Bio-Diversity Park. This initiative has helped many Gurgaonites connect with nature. Now it is not difficult to spot joggers, hikers, cyclists – and even rock-climbers, in the Park, thanks to the green drive of IAG. The Park was once a garbage dumping ground. This drive (of planting over 10,000 trees in the Park) has fuelled a movement, and IAG aims to plant a million trees in the City.

Apart from environmental protection, the NGO has made a worthwhile contribution in areas like sanitation, traffic management, and cleanliness. A major success story has been the clean-up drive in Ardee City. Talking about the Project, Ambika Agarwal, one of the co-founders of IAG says, “The City might generate the most revenue for Haryana, but it has been struggling to clean up its stormwater drains. We turned ‘nullahs’ into an effective run-off drain at Ardee City. Once an illegal dumping drain for sewage and garbage, today it has been turned into a pedestrian green-way.”

A member of IAG, Harish Capoor, noticed that the sweepers in the City were just transferring garbage from one point to another, instead of collecting it at a common point. This led to the formation of garbage dumps at various places in the City. “Being an active member of IAG he approached the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG) to install dustbins along all the stretches. His proposal was approved by the Administration,” says Swanzal Kak Kapoor, another co-founder of IAG.


As the organisation has volunteers from different walks of life, it has been successful in getting good technical support for most of its projects. For instance, one of the members, Atal Kapoor, took up the issue of traffic mismanagement around The Shri Ram School at Aravali Hills Road. An architect by profession, Atal studied a map of the area. “We identified a vacant spot nearby, which could easily be transformed into a parking lot. So we proposed the plan to the Municipality, and it was approved. The project is underway, and after its completion it will house around 100 cars,”
says Atal.

IAG has also been able to draw in people for cultural events. Recently, ‘Gurgaon Utsav’ was organised in the Park. It was a huge success, and received a footfall of more than 500 guests a day. The Park is also host to The Gurgaon Circle of Drums. This group, comprising 40 drummers, attracts over 300 spectators every second Sunday, for two hours.



Role of Administration

When asked about how the NGO has been able to pull in so much support from the Administration, Latika says, “We are not merely a pressure group. We come up with solutions and push the authorities to work with us. That is why they consider us an asset. We are an apolitical organisation.”

IAG is blessed to have the active involvement of experts from different all walks of life. “While an engineer makes a contribution by offering technical expertise, a teacher makes a contribution by drawing in kids as volunteers for the events. Each task is assigned to a member according to the area of his/her expertise.  That is why our team manages to offer solutions that are not just based on reality, but have a professional edge,” says Latika. Also, the level of commitment is very high.









The organisation is also getting support from the Administration in raising funds uniquely. IAG has many times made the City’s top officials, like ex-DC Rajendra Kataria and District Education Officer, Jyoti Chaudhary, walk the ramp!






What next?

The IAG team aims to transform the rural areas in Sikanderpur into urban villages. Latika says, “This Project is in its first stage, so I can’t reveal much about it. However, our motive is to invite volunteers to bring about development in these villages.” IAG also plans to build a cycle stand, wherein people can rent a cycle and enjoy a ride at the cycling tracks in the Bio-Diversity Park. The construction of these tracks is also an IAG initiative.

IAG is passionate about making the City a more livable place. “Today the City is home to thousands of professionals who are quite ignorant about the civic issues, especially the environment of the City. To change this attitude we have to build and embrace a culture of giving back to the City,” believes Swanzal.


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