The KAJ Schmidt Memorial on Elliot’s Beach is now in such bad shape that visitors are being protected from it.
The Chennai Corporation has begun constructing a fence around the memorial, to prevent beach-goers from getting close to it.
“The structure is in bad shape. There is a huge risk of its collapsing completely. So we don’t want any visitors getting too close to it. The safety of beach-goers is our priority,” said a Corporation official.
An estimated 20,000 visitors flock to Elliot’s Beach in Besant Nagar every day.
Work on the fencing started this week and will be completed next week, the official said. The project will cost approximately Rs. 4 lakh.
The civic body has also floated bids for restoration of the structure at a cost of Rs. 20 lakh. The restoration will only be carried out by sculptors experienced in lime mortar construction. The sculptors are expected to be from areas in the delta region. This work too, is expected to start shortly.
“The memorial is an important structure on the beach. I have seen it ever since I was a child. It is in terrible shape now. The government’s efforts to restore it will bring back several memories that many in the city cherish. But they should not tamper with the original structure,” said Srinivasan, a 70-year-old resident of Besant Nagar.
Saravanan, another resident of the area said the lack of adequate toilets in Besant Nagar was one reason many people used the area near the memorial for defecation at dawn.
The KAJ Schmidt Memorial bears a plaque that dates it to December 30, 1930. It was built to commemorate the gallantry of Schmidt, a European sailor, who drowned near the spot trying to save others from drowning.