Residents point to a newly-erected and numbered electricity pole at Venketachalam Nagar in Thirumullaivoyal; (right) a revised list of numbered poles.

Give the number, solve the problem

Residents point to a newly-erected and numbered electricity pole at Venketachalam Nagar in Thirumullaivoyal; (right) a revised list of numbered poles.

In Thirumullaivoyal, a numbering system is allied to how damaged electricity poles are set right

By virtue of a simple but seemingly-effective system, residents of Venketachalam Nagar in Thirumullaivoyal have taken tedium out of the process of making electricity pole-related complaints.

The neighbourhood has reduced such complaints to “easy numbers”. Here is how it works.

S. Vijayabhaskar, a long-time resident of Venketachalam Nagar, says that for a long time, residents here were following the traditional method — which was identifying the street, and sometimes the plot number, where the pole with a non-functional street light or a faulty power cable was found, while making a complaint over the phone.

A few residents came up with the idea of marking numbers on all the electricity poles in the neighbourhood, for the sake of easy identification. With the local Tangedco officials as well as officials of the local body warming up to the idea, the residents’ association passed a resolution that these poles be numbered.

So, all the 48 electricity poles in the neighbourhood received numbers — this was the very first list, and it was made around eight years ago. Copies of the complete list of numbered poles were sent to the officials concerned.

Residents show a revised list of numbered poles.

“Venketachalam Nagar has more houses than most other neighbourhoods nearby. So, in relative terms, the number of electricity poles in the neighbourhood is on the higher side,” says says 60-year-old A.K. Vijayabhaskaran, who was the president of the Association when this system was introduced.

Over the years, Venketachalam Nagar has become more densely-populated. At present, there are 18 streets, besides a few main roads; there are 650 families living in the neighbourhood; and the number of Tangedco poles is more than 80.

Residents have persisted with the tradition of numbering the electricity poles. From time to time, they have been tweaking the system.

For example, poles that has been erected between two numbered poles have been numbered with an alphabet — for example 1A or 2B.

Residents point out the need for such numbering would arise, whenever houses would be built on open plots; and new poles would be installed. So, from time to time, residents present a revised list of the numbered poles to local Tangedco officials and the other authorities concerned.

“Before the onset of every northeast monsoon, we repaint the numbers on the poles to ensure better visibility. The painting costs are borne by the residents themselves,” says A. Giri Ravanan, secretary, Venketachalam Nagar Residents Welfare Association.

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