The proposed restoration strategies include fencing the area so as to avoid public access
It has been more than four months since a report on the proposed restoration of Kaj Schmidt Memorial at Elliot’s Beach was tabled to the Chennai Corporation. But till date, no restoration work has begun, except for the soil testing work, conducted in May. Dr. S.R. Gandhi, professor and Head, Dr. C.V.R. Murthy, professor, and Dr. Arun Menon, assistant professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology – Madras, submitted the report on the restoration of the monument to Chennai Corporation Commissioner Vikram Kapur and Mayor Saidai Samiyaappan Duraisamy. “The authorities concerned should take action, at the earliest, to restore the heritage structure, which is a pride of Chennai and Besant Nagar. Once the restoration work is completed, the monument should be prevented from being vandalised by anti-social elements,” social activists Kamakshi Subramanian and T.D. Babu said.
The proposed restoration strategies include fencing the area so as to avoid public access. The ground level around the structure may be raised by 500m for at least a width of 30m in all directions using the beach sand.
At the perimeter of the fill, the slope shall be protected by stone pitching or by using suitable creeper or turf, the report stated.
In view of the extensive damage to the monument, it is risky for the public to approach the monument. The area should be cordoned off with suitable barbed wire fencing, until necessary repair and restoration works have been completed, the report added.One of the city’s landmarks, the memorial was built by Lieutenant-Colonel Sir George Frederick Stanley, the Governor of Madras, to honour the memory of Schmidt, a Dutch sailor who, on December 30, 1930, lost his life while saving that of a drowning English girl. The memorial is shrinking in space, and falling apart by the day. Names of people have been scribbled on the walls of the memorial. After dusk, the memorial becomes a haven for anti-social elements. It is a common sight to see anti-social elements consuming liquor at the memorial.
And the area near the monument has become a dump yard with garbage strewn all over and people. Official sources in the Public Works Department (PWD) said: The State Archaeology Department has been asked to prepare an estimate report on restoration of the monument.
Once the report is submitted to the PWD, work on restoring the heritage structure will begin.