CHENNAI : Residents of Besant Nagar fear the City Corporation’s attempt to modernise Elliot’s Beach will rob it of its beauty by paving way for more concrete structures along that stretch in the future. As part of the Swadesh Darshan scheme, the Chennai Corporation has begun constructing a jogger’s path right next to the walkway which was constructed five years back. Residents say that this is an unnecessary addition which will only serve as a platform for more street food shops.
“The walkway is lined with eateries making it cumbersome for walkers. When the civic body can’t maintain the existing amenities, what is the point for new ones?” argued former Olympic hockey player V Bhaskaran, who resides in Kalakshetra Colony near the beach.
“The high side walls planned for the jogger’s track will hide the view of the beach,” said Shanti Krishnan, a resident, who has submitted a petition to local authorities, asking for the scrapping of the project.
In addition to the walkway, the City Corporation has planned lawns, a play area for children, toilets, first aid kiosks and toilets for Elliot’s Beach using funds from the Swadesh Darshan scheme.
These proposed amenities have evoked a mixed response. While residents welcomed toilets and first aid kiosks, they claimed that play areas and lawns will tarnish the existing ecosystem and affect the beach’s aesthetics. “A children’s play area on the beach will attract more eateries who will litter the area with spoons, ice creams sticks and plastic,” said V Chandrasekhar, president of the senior citizens group of Besant Nagar and Mylapore.
While officials in the Corporation assured proper maintenance and compliance to Coastal Regulation Zone norms, artificial lawns and play areas will affect marine life and animals like crabs. Unlike the Marina, which is also undergoing a facelift, crabs dot the Elliot’s Beach and are vulnerable to topographical changes.
Residents fear introduction of public WiFi will spell an end to pigeon swarms that deck the beach. Electromagnetic radiation has been known to deter birds and affect them over prolonged exposure.
Officials from the Park’s Department, which is implementing this central government scheme, refused to comment on the impacts of the modernisation but assured proper maintenance of amenities which have been planned. “We are merely implementing a Central Government scheme, we have no say,” said a