Poor lighting and patrolling mark Injambakkam and Kottivakkam beaches at night, Liffy Thomas finds out during a stroll
The rolling waves of the Injambakkam beach is so tempting that S. Gunasekaran’s children refuse to leave the water, but the setting sun plays the spoil sport.
Packing up before dark is a rule Gunasekaran strictly follows whenever he brings his family to the beach. “The beach is lovely, it’s less crowded than Marina and Elliot’s, but I am afraid to stay beyond 6.30 p.m. as the lighting is poor,” says this resident of Medavakkam. It is almost two years since the Chennai Corporation added 10 new beaches to its list, but a lot needs to be done to improve the safety and amenities on the sandy coastline. For a number of people from Tambaram and adjoining neighbourhoods, these beaches are close by and thereforea quickly accessible relaxation spot. With better lighting, the beach could draw a bigger evening crowd. At Injambakkam beach, two high masts light up one stretch of the beach, but residents say it was installed by a private beach resort, which also has a life guard who ensures visitors' safety.
P. Mahalingam, who has come for an evening stroll, gives me a stern warning: “The beach is not like Marina. You cannot walk in any time and there are no policemen patrolling the stretch.”
Further down the coast, Neelangarai and Palavakkam beaches seem to be better lit and one can spot a few dustbins here and there. But long-time residents, who frequent the beach, say for crowd the beach attracts on weekends the progress of improvement is slow. While Neelangarai beach has benches, some green space and a walkers’ path, Palavakkam is yet to get such amenities.
“Like the Marina beach, where the sands are cleaned with a machine, Palavakkam beach needs to be cleaned at least twice a week,” says Rosey Thangaraj, a resident of Palavakkam who visits the beach twice a day. Before the Corporation took over the beach, she says, local residents used to clean some stretches of the beach, but now there is no such initiative.
Kottivakkam beach hardly has any amenities, say residents.
Lack of restrooms on a majority of the newly-added beaches prevents people from hanging out in the beach for long. Residents believe only beach beautification project can give these beaches the much needed facelift.