Over 10,000 cops maintain guard; roads and popular tourist spots witness less traffic this year
As is the custom, people with their families flocked to Marina beach for a customary visit on Kaanum Pongal on Wednesday.
Apart from an incident of one man who was saved from drowning, police officials said there was no untoward incident.
Barricades keep people from sea
Over 10,000 policemen helped by ex-servicemen, bus conductors who were not on duty and college students, maintained guard along the beach stretch.
“We have ten stages, and policemen in three control rooms monitoring the crowd,” said a senior policeman. Barricades were also put up to prevent people from going to the beach.
“The crowd is much less than earlier years. It is manageable,” he added.
Till 6.30 p.m., nearly 41 missing children were registered at various police booths on the beach. “Many of them did not even know the names of their parents or areas, but they know their phone numbers,” said S. Selvi, a police personnel engaged in announcing the names of the missing children. By the end of the day, all children were entrusted back to their families.
Toll plazas register fewer vehicles
The East Coast Road to Puducherry, which usually witnesses heavy traffic on Kaanum Pongal day, saw less traffic this time. According to sources in the Tamil Nadu Road Development Company (TNRDC), till 6 p.m. their toll plazas had clocked only around 11,000 vehicles. “Last year, by this time, around 14,000 vehicles had used this road,” said a source.
A toll operator said that not many two-wheelers, autorickshaws or load vehicles crossed the plaza at Uthandi this year. “We didn’t have much traffic till 11 a.m. Usually, we have hundreds of bikes whizzing through,” the source said.
Similarly, the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation’s (TTDC) boat house Mudaliarkuppam didn’t have many visitors. “This year the collection was only Rs. 29,000 as against last year’s Rs. 94,000. The crowds came in only after 4 p.m.,” said a source in the TTDC.
However, the Muttukadu boat house had 800 more visitors than last year and 4815 heads brought in a collection of Rs. 4 lakh.
“My children always look forward to this day. We are out the entire day. Coming to the park on other days is never this exciting,” said R. Nisha who had come from Purasawalkam to the Guindy Children’s Park with her husband and two children.
At the Trade Fair on the Island Grounds, which saw 1,10,420 visitors on Kaanum Pongal last year, Wednesday saw only 68,000 till 6 p.m.
Vendors made brisk business on Wednesday. “Everything, including masala pori, cut fruits and fish fry was at least Rs. 5 more than on usual days,” said R. Swaminathan, who had come with his family of five. R. Kesavan, an icecream vendor at Marina, however, said the slightly cold climate was a spoiler and that he had not been able to make as much business as last year.