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Where a street name is a killjoy

Petlee Peter
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plaguedResidents of Kolaikaranpettai 1{+s}{+t}street and 2{+n}{+d}street in Royapettah have now given up a struggle for a name change —Photo: R. Ragu
plaguedResidents of Kolaikaranpettai 1{+s}{+t}street and 2{+n}{+d}street in Royapettah have now given up a struggle for a name change —Photo: R. Ragu

Over two decades of a struggle by a group of residents to change the ‘horrific’ name of their streets now seems to have ended.

With Chennai Corporation authorities paying no heed to their plea, residents of Royapettah’s Kolaikaranpettai (‘murderers’ den’ in Tamil) 1{+s}{+t}street and 2{+n}{+d}street have finally given up.

The names of the streets that originated around 50 years ago have been an embarrassment for over 500 residents. Quite unsure about how the streets got the name, residents have repeatedly approached authorities for a name change.

“It is really embarassing when people at banks and other public places laugh at us the minute our address is spelt out. We have petitioned the Corporation authorities numerous times over two decades but the petition papers only ended in dustbins,” septuagenarian Padmavathi, a resident of Kolaikaranpettai 2{+n}{+d}Street, said.

Many residents, including the 76-year-old, believe that the streets, branching from the Gaudiya Math Road, got the name as women, including cine artistes, practiced kolattam , a dance form on an open ground located behind Pilot theatre around 50 years ago.

“I remember that during my teenage days the streets were known as Kolakkaran lanes that over the years turned to Kolaikaran,” said Umadevi (53), whose place of birth and residence is Kolaikaranpettai 1{+s}{+t}Street.

According to historian V. Sriram, there is no specific history on how the names originated but there is one theory which says there was a place called Kallukkaranpettai in the area where people engaged in the work of breaking stones, lived.

Not comfortable with their street’s name, a section of residents of Kolaikaranpettai 2{+n}{+d}Street now say they are residents of the adjacent Mylapuran Street and have managed to change the street name in their ration cards. But over 300 residents are still unhappy residents of Kolaikaranpettai.

R.N. Durai, former DMK Councillor of the area, said that his final efforts to get the streets named Gaudiya Math Lane 1 and Lane 2 failed.

“The residents have been trying for a name change for years. Finally I spoke at the Corporation council meeting on a few occasions on the matter. But nothing has changed,” Mr. Durai said.

Frustrated with the Corporation authorities’ lack of action, some residents had covered the names on the street signs with black paint.

But authorities only provided a fresh coat of yellow paint with black letters that proclaim Kolaikaranpettai 1{+s}{+t}Street and Kolaikaranpettai 2{+n}{+d}Street to this day.

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