A secluded, serene beach in Ajman is being ruined by urban waste, according to Gulf News reader Vijoy V. J. He said: “More serious than the issue of public ignorance is the fact that this is a major environmental concern”. Image Credit: Vijoy V. J./Gulf News Reader

Taking a stand isn't always easy or exciting — but if it will make a difference, community reporters are prepared to come out of the shade and act as catalysts for change.

The newspaper recognises readers who raised their voice on issues that they felt were important, relevant and required immediate attention.

And what goes around comes around.

Today, we acknowledge and award those who shared their experiences and brought significant matters to the fore during the month of July.

Over the past few months, the Your Turn page's Community Report section has highlighted myriad subjects that concerned residents and helped alert the authorities about matters that required urgent attention.

Topics of concern ranged from misspelled signboards to street lights burning much-needed energy during the day.

Readers have found Community Reports to be the right platform to create awareness and turn the spotlight on situations that generate interest and truly impact their lives.

Raising important questions, seeking answers from the relevant authorities and highlighting social issues take effort. And community reporters do not hesitate to prod and poke, if it has a chance of making a real difference.

The community reports published in July were judged by UAE Editor Meher Murshed. The criteria for selection included content, issue, impact on community, responsibility and the quality of contribution.


Spilt fuel can have dire consequences
July 9
By: Ramesh Menon

Reason for selection:
The consequences of mistakes are magnified if they are made in places such as petrol stations.The community reporter highlighted the hazards of spilling fuel when trying to accommodate rush-hour traffic.
UAE Editor Meher Murshed said: “This is an excellent community report because it raises an issue that is relevant to all of us. We should all make an effort to be careful. I congratulate Mr Menon on his excellent civic sense and urge others to follow suit. Safety is a common concern.”

Ramesh Menon is a technical officer, based in Abu Dhabi.
The reader actively promotes and exhibits community talent in the blogosphere through his blog: www.talentshare.blogspot.com.
As a frequent reporter of community issues, the reader said: “I wish, in the future, more readers will find time to write in without holding back on their thoughts, as community reports are gaining immense popularity and attention, with the issues getting addressed and resolved at a faster pace than through normal routes.”


Danger of contamination
July 12
By: Boban Thomas

Reason for selection:
When temperatures soar, water is a crucial part of people’s day. But what if even that is under the risk of contamination?
UAE Editor Meher Murshed said: “The reader has raised a valid point. Quite often, we leave water in plastic bottles in our cars. Leaching of chemicals in water, in high temperatures, has been known to have a negative or bad impact on health. This is a documented fact. When we see such displays of ignorance, action should be taken.”

Boban Thomas is a logistics supervisor, based in Abu Dhabi.
He repeated the need to safeguard water bottles and not leave them out in the heat.
The reader said: “This is a bad practice and I see it [happening] every day in front of small supermarkets wherever I go. I request the authorities to intervene at the earliest.”
Thomas said he hoped to have the issue addressed through his community report. “Also, thank you Gulf News for giving readers a good platform to highlight their concerns.”


Beach ruined by rubbish
July 22
By: Vijoy V.J

Reason for selection:
In most parts of the world, summer is synonymous with the beach.
When the community reporter came across a large amount of litter in one such spot in Ajman, he decided to write and call for a change in attitude.
UAE Editor Meher Murshed commended the reader’s initiative.
He said: “We should all make an effort to protect our open spaces. Keeping our environment clean is necessary to ensure future generations can still enjoy Nature. The report and pictures bring to the fore the gravity of the problem on Al Zorah Beach, in Ajman.”

Vijoy V. J. is a marketing officer, based in Dubai.
A second-time winner of the community report competition, the reader said he was confident about being heard.
“If the relevant organisations and authorities come together with the people who raise their concerns, I am sure it will make a difference.”
However, according to the community reporter, the situation remains the same at Al Zorah Beach.
He said: “Nobody has looked into it yet, but I know it is a huge task to clean up the area. It has been in a sorry state for the past two years. I hope the authorities take action.”