Will Mamallapuram revert to shoddy state?

From poor financial health to unregulated vendors,  local body faces several challenges in maintaining the town
Street vendors are seen occupying  the road near Arjuna’s Penance and Krishna’s butter ball monuments at Mamallapuram  | express
Street vendors are seen occupying the road near Arjuna’s Penance and Krishna’s butter ball monuments at Mamallapuram | express

CHENNAI: A great many amenities were created at Mamallapuram for the Modi-Xi summit. But, how long will they last? Or, rather, how soon will Mamallapuram revert to its old shoddy state? While locals want the town to be maintained as clean as it was during the summit, the town panchayat, plagued by the lack of funds and erratic water supply, may not be able fulfil that demand.    

The poor financial health of the local body can be attributed to irregularities in evaluation of property tax to be paid by hotels and resorts in the vicinity, allege residents. They say no action has been taken on illegal drainage connections and on unauthorised vendors. Besides taxes, the local body earns around `65-70 lakh annually through vehicle entry fees and leasing of public toilets.  

Sources in the panchayat say, at least 50-60 workers are required to carry out sanitation works in the residential areas and around the monuments. The local body had only 17 persons on the rolls, as on October 5. The local body caters to 4,600 households, spread across five villages, with a total population of 15,172.

Though blacktopped roads, clean footpaths, closed electric boxes and painted walls have excited the locals and traders, they say sanitation and regulation of street vendors are crucial to maintaining the town. They say a few attempts made in the past to this effect failed mainly because of influence of local leaders. 
S Krishnan, who owns a shop on Padasalai Road, claims that close to 1 lakh people visited the town on October 13, the day after the summit. “We have not seen this kind of rush even during Kanum Pongal.

Unless street vendors are regularised, cleanliness cannot be maintained.”
According to official estimates, about 125 shops occupy streets near Arjuna’s Penance and Krishna’s butter ball monuments, while over 350 shops function near Shore Temple, Panch Rathas and other parts of the town. A few locals questioned the rationale behind the demand for providing amenities for visitors while leaving the locals to suffer without drinking water.

“We have been demanding an extension of the water supply from Venpurusham for the long time. But we are only being provided with two pots of water from the RO plant,” says Kannan of Kovalam Street.

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The New Indian Express