Thiruveedhi Amman Koil Street, Mandaveli has two sides to it. Today. One is filled with litter, potholed and often a place to park cattle too. The other was not so better than this. Till, the community on this side decided to take charge of the area and make a change.
Thus, one end of this street that lies west of R. K. Mutt Road, behind the BSNL office campus is a clean and green street now. How did this transformation happen? K. Sundarraman, a resident here since 2000, recalls, “When I first moved into my apartment, there weren’t too many flats. Ours was the first on the street and we had a lot of independent homes. There weren’t too many civic issues till 2005 when the problems started”.
The wall of Chennai School ( run by the civic body) covered 40% of one side of the street. With cab and auto drivers parking their vehicles here for long periods of time and the street dimly-lit, people started drinking there. Then, others dumped garbage around. “Many residents would feel unsafe and would avoid going out at night or take a detour”, says Sundarraman.
This was the condition of the street for five years. Residents individually tried talking to the nuisance makers but they were not taken seriously.
N. K. Ramkumar, another resident says, “When I came to live here in 2007, we did not have a garbage bin. People used to dump the garbage in front of Dr. Janakiraman’s house. Also, and high tension cables were visible on the
Having decided that enough is enough, Ramkumar knocked on the doors of the residents and asked them if they would be interested in improving the civic conditions around them. In late 2013, seven residents – Dr. Janakiraman, K. Sundarraman, S. Viswanathan, Srinivasan, K. L. Bala, V. Ramakrishnan and Ramkumar met at Ramkumar’s house to discuss the issues.
TAKSRA (Thiruveedhi Amman Koil Street Residents’ Association) was born days later. Resident Pradeep. R even designed a logo for the group.
When the community made representations to the officials, as an association, it found that there was strength in numbers. The officials were willing to listen to them and address their problems.
The street lights and the sewage overflow problems were fixed. With the help of the police they put up ‘No Parking’ signs along a section of the street and forced the vehicles parked for days, off the street.
Resident K. L. Bala says, “We couldn’t have solved the problems without the co-operation of the residents. All the 50 families were on alert. Everytime they saw a vehicle parked there, they would make a note of the registration number and we would pass it on to the police. Guests visiting the residents were told not to park there and they cooperated too. We strictly enforced this rule”.
There was a need to re-lay the footpath. That got done. Says Bala, “Chennai Corporation even allowed us to plan and design it with space for plants and a garbage bin”. The community got into composting – several apartment complexes built compost pits to recycle vegetable waste. They also installed a CCTV camera and placed painted drums to prevent illegal parking at the entrance to the street.
Recently, Mylapore zone deputy commissioner of police, V. Balakrishnan, visited the colony and said on his Facebook page, “It is a good concept worth replicating in other areas.”
Now, the community maintains a Whatsapp group to discuss issues quickly. Issues keep popping up. So do ideas. And this Mandaveli community seems keen to address them.
Contact Bala at 9840441803.