Desperate measure to keep encroachers at bay

On Sundareswarar Street, three schools — Lady Sivaswami Ayyar Girls Higher Secondary School, Chellammal Vidyalayaa Nursery and Primary School and Sivaswami Kalalaya Senior Secondary School — stand cheek by jowl. And it has the famous Rasika Ranjani Sabha, popularly known as R.R. Sabha, too. Do I have to say any more than this to emphasise that this street is well-trodden?

Recently, when I paid the street a visit, pavements on both sides of the street had been gobbled up by vehicles. There were also cases of vehicles being parked alongside those already parked on one side of the road. Now, if you knew that Sundareswarar Street is just 20-feet wide, you would be able to picture the chaos resulting from such reckless parking.

While weaving their way through parked vehicles, pedestrains — mostly, students and their parents — had to bear the stench of garbage. The place also reeked of urine. One hour at this stretch was enough to cause nausea. Experiencing the unpalatable aspects of the street regularly, it was only expected that someday the committee members of R.R. Sabha would take a drastic step. And they did, recently.

After successfully seeking the permission of Mylapore MLA R. Nataraj and the Greater Chennai Corporation, they put up a mesh fence along the entire length of the 145-feet-long pavement abutting the sabha.

“Garbage, haphazardly parked vehicles, open toilets, noise pollution and alcohol consumption by anti-socials. Sundareswarar Street has seen it all,” says R. Nagarajan, secretary, R.R. Sabha, which re-opened recently after a 10-year break, necessitated by reconstruction of the facility.

After the fence was laid, the pavement was cleaned and security personnel watch over both ends of the pavement. “Initially, we planned to close both sides of the pavement with fence doors, but later decided to leave them open for students, parents and residents,” he says.

It is over three weeks since the fence was installed on one side of the stretch. So far, this barricade is doing a great job of keeping vehicles at bay.

However, following this initiative, the number of vehicles on the pavement on the other side of the road, the one running alongside the premises of Lady Sivaswami Ayyar Girls Higher Secondary School, has increased. This side of the road is also witnessing greater garbage pile-up.

According to P. Ruby Puthotta, headmistress of the school, students suffer the most on account of this situation. “Some of our students leave the campus in the evening, after their coaching classes. With more vehicles coming up on the pavement, they don’t use it anymore. In fact, a few months ago, we managed to get a dustbin removed from the entrance of the school as that was adding to the chaos,” she says.

Though the movement outside the school is being constantly monitored through CCTV cameras, the management will soon set up a similar fence on the pavement on their side of the road.

The R.R. Sabha committee has promised them all assistance.

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