Part of the article published in TimeOut Mumbai.
During the 26/7 floods last year, several residents of Dombivli were stranded far from home, and with the phone lines down and mobile networks jammed there was little chance of communicating with their families. Yet at least six residents, who unable to make it home, managed to log onto their neighbourhood portal, dombivlikar.com, and enter messages that included their addresses.
Although there was no electricity in Dombivli, Shaunak Sontakke, 22, who started the three-year-old site, had his computer hooked up to a generator, and was able to retrieve the messages. Amidst the torrent, Sontakke and three friends stepped out of their homes to deliver the messages to the anxious families, people they had never known till then. “Ever since that day, everyone in my neighbourhood knows about me and the website,” said Sontakke, “I’ve even
heard people talk about the site when I was standing behind them in a queue.”
There are about ten websites dedicated to neighbourhoods in the city, some more active than others, but all developed with the same basic tenet; to create a sense of community among residents of a locality.
“I wanted to give my great city [Dombivli] an identity,” said Santakke, who was born and raised in the suburb. “I want everyone from Dombivli to be able to communicate with each other.” As part of his efforts, Sontakke moderates discussions between several subgroups on the web including “dashingdombivli”, “dombivliengineers” and “dombivlidoctors”.