March 03, 2007

Why beautify Bessie Beach?

A week ago, there was a little party on Elliots Beach.
There wasn’t any chilled beer, nor were there fizzy drinks. But there was a lot of food.
As the fireworks lit up the southern sky as part of the finale of ‘Chennai Sangamam’ arts festival hosted in the city, the party got better and went into the night.
Gathered on the sands off the Cozee restaurant point, were eight young men who once used to spend every other evening on these sands. Through school and through college, they had shared their highs and lows on these sands. They had even shared stories of their romances and dalliances on this beach.
And then, over a span of a few months, they had broken up. To go to different corners of the country and of the world where their jobs took them. But they did not forget Elliots Beach. And they came back to it last week. To celebrate the old times.
Bessie Beach has been a part of the lives of thousands and hundreds of people of this city. And now the Chennai Corporation has yet another plan to ‘beautify’ this urban heritage expanse.
But as it always happens, the City Fathers conveniently forget the men and women who make the beach a part of their lives.
During the course of 2007, something like thirty crores of rupees will be spent on a project to beautify the Marina, from the Port Trust end in the north to the Thiruvanmiyur coast in the south.
A few fancy drawings and projects have been drawn up. Till the other day, these plans were shown to a few people who work in the community. But when people who are keen about their neighbourhood and their environment and want to play a role in civic affairs, pressed for information, the officers at the local level clamped up.
Dozens of phone calls later, the project was traced to the senior officers who are actually in charge of it. And they are now willing to sit on forums where the community and the stake holders can discuss the plans and have a say in them.
Typically, the plans include fancy ideas - gushing fountains, tiled paths, colourful sun-shades, extensive landscaping, tropical avenue trees, swank washrooms and smart cabins for hawkers on the sands.
Ask the neighbourhood’s beach-comber what he or she wants and he or she says - clean sands, clean shoreline and unpolluted water. Nothing more. Nothing else. There are other issues to address when we start looking at an environment like the beach.
But why aren’t City Fathers and the officials chatting with the young people, the beach walkers, the hawkers and the kuppam residents on what is best for all of us?
How about creating forums where such public issues can be discussed and inputs from professionals from the community accommodated?
A small group asked for the discussion on the plans for the beach. And the present Corporation Commissioner has been willing to participate.
All those who love Marina and Bessie Beaches need to get involved.

3 comments:

Geeta Padmanabhan said...

That was beautifully written, Vincent! I've always been a big fan of the way you put things across! More strength to your pen, oops, keyboard!
If you can find the time, do join us at the awards function tomorrow evening (4 May) at the MRC Centre in Santhome. I'm sure you will love what you see. You'll get to know of disabled men and women who excel in their field of work and you will watch an integrated cultural programme.

amrita said...

No concrete please... just sand and sea

Anonymous said...

clean sands, clean saltwater, clean air, no fancy kiosks, fancy but filthy washrooms, no plastic debris or of any other kind. Whose definition of 'beautifying' is this? As pristine as posble. Nothing man can make rivals the simple and stunning beauty of a natural beach. just to feel the salty air, even if it does smell a little~! The openness of the sea and the wonder of it all.