Difficulties create an atmosphere for expansion and unity — that is particularly true of how residents welfare associations are formed. Pelathope Residents Welfare Association was formed exactly a year ago in the womb of a difficulty.
Tucked away behind the Thirumayilai MRTS station, opposite Meenakshi Silk House in Mylapore, residents of Pelathope Street (also known by Vedanta Desika Swamy Street) have been putting up with unauthorised parking for a long time. These vehicles were making their way to the street from elsewhere.
The roughly 30-feet-wide street can barely manage to accommodate vehicles of its own residents. With ‘outsiders’ finding it convenient to park on this street and shop in and around the area, there was a clear problem. Residents came together to address this issue.
A WhatsApp group was formed enrolling residents in the street where around 60 families live. Raghavendra Murali, the fifth generation of a family residing in the area and coordinator for the street, says 110 members are currently in the WhatsApp group.
Before taking up the parking issue, residents came together to address other issues concerning the street such as drainage-, water- and electricity-related issues.
“Power fluctuations were common and we got a new transformer installed. The road was also black-topped last year after many representations to the Corporation officials,” says Murali, a management consultant.
This won the trust of many residents who understood the power of unity, say residents. When residents approached the Chennai Traffic Police to help address the parking issue, they were advised to put up “No Parking” boards at strategic points.
More than five flex boards and barricades were brought in to prevent and warn outsiders against parking their vehicles here.
The strategy worked, say residents. Last year, during Panguni festival, the Association hired a few security guards to ensure vehicles were not parked in the street.
The larger goal of this exercise was to allow residents to park their vehicles. Venkatesh N, secretary of the Association, says as Pelathope Street is more than 100 years old and most homes have outgrown their needs there was a need to find space to park vehicles. Ten years ago, only a few residents had four-wheelers. Now, at least 12 families own a four-wheeler with limited space inside their compound, he says.
Once space was freed up and a few encroachments including a garbage bin was removed, the members earmarked an area for parking two- and four-wheelers including those of visitors. Cars are only parked on one side of the street, allowing free movement for other vehicles.
“We had the police come and lock some vehicles and this served as a deterrent. We hope to get the support of officials and set an example for other streets in the region,” says Venkatesh.
The young Association currently meets every fortnight and plans to take up other issues to improve the area.