Two years ago, she spoke to Citizen Matters about the legal battle she fought for the Meistripalya lake. It was her determination to protect and preserve open spaces in Koramangala that saw her through. Citizen Matters caught up with Laila Ollapally, now 57, after two years to hear more from her. She has now moved on to being a mediator at the Bangalore Mediation Centre (BMC). Mediation provides a platform for dialogue and cases can be solved through conversations outside court.
Residents are coming together and supporting revival of a lot of lakes. Your thoughts on that?
When the community participates as a whole, the cause becomes stronger and does bring in a change. But at the same time, it brings a responsibility with it. The participation in any cause should be sustainable and carefully planned. The participation should be a well thought out, sustainable participation is the key. My personal experience is, I have seen more involvement and optimistic participation. The conversation is becoming better.
You have moved to mediation. What are the kinds of cases that get solved through mediation?
Favourite hangouts in Bangalore
I am a nature lover. I always seek out beautiful green parks to hang out. Though there are not many green parks in Bangalore now, I like walking in quite green areas wherever there is.
I love traveling, writing for myself, play with my grand children and meeting people. I also love tasting different cuisines and experimenting with food from across other countries.
All kind of civil cases can be solved through mediation. Two neighbours fighting over a fence or two brothers fighting over some land. Hundreds of such issues get registered in the court every day. Average life of a case (in a court) is 15 years. The courts have been overburdened by such cases.
Earlier, for any such issues, the families and neighbours sat together and solved the problems. But now, due to lack of a forum, every case gets registered in the court. The society has cut meaningful conversations from our lives. So these cases need mediation.
You have travelled many countries. What do you think is something that can be taken up for the improvement of our country?
Cleanliness. The other countries are so clean. We call ourselves democratic country. How do we use our freedom? Spitting on the roads and throwing garbage anywhere is freedom for us. We have to become aware of this as individuals. And realise what our freedom actually means and what can be the best use of it. That is something I really like about the other countries.
What is something that you would like to change in the city?
Corruption. It is very sad and discouraging that corruption has entered everywhere. It is sad to see how wonderful things that could happen, do not happen due to corruption. We do not give importance to merits. Bangalore ranks very high in terms of corruption and hence maladministration. It has permeated into every aspect of life and mind set. It has corrupted the souls of the city. I wish that could be changed. Our government needs to get their act together. We need strong leadership.
Laila’s adventurous streak
I love adventurous sports. My husband and I indulge in such activities frequently. Recently we went to Vietnam and did Kayaking. We also did mountain trekking at Yellow Mountain in China and went up to the highest spot that was 1864 meters high.
You have lived in Koramangala for 35 years now. How do you find Koramangala compared to the rest of the city?
I have not stayed in any other part of the city. But talking about Koramangala, I find it very active in terms of citizen participation for various causes. There is a definite increase in the involvement of citizens. The neighbourhood is very nice. The roads are very quiet and good in the residential area.
How have you seen Bangalore grow?
Bangalore has grown tremendously. In terms of traffic, buildings, people and also opportunities. You will find all types of people here. Young and old.⊕