Will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; entry fee of Rs. 5 for students

Yet another tourist attraction, a lighthouse heritage museum, was added to the world-renowned, historical town of Mamallapuram, about 60 km from Chennai, on Tuesday.

Inaugurating the facility, comprising heritage and marine museums, Union shipping minister G.K. Vasan said it was the first of its kind in the country and had been set up by the directorate general of lighthouses and lightships (DGLL).

The museum houses miniatures of different kinds of ships, fishing boats and defence vessels, and also porcelain containers, medicine box and crockery with departmental emblem supplied to light-keepers to use in different lighthouses.

The open space in the complex, part of which has green cover, has been utilised for installation of specimens of ships and a deep-sea channel marking buoy among other things.

Mr. Vasan, responding to an appeal by P. Viswanathan, member of parliament from Kancheepuram constituency, halved the student entry fee to Rs. 5, and said the museum would be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 1.30 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

As part of the project, on which about Rs. 5 crore was spent, there was a proposal to introduce a laser show in five to six months.

Mr. Vasan said modernisation of lighthouses and opening them to the public was among the programmes pursued by his ministry. The lighthouse on the Marina was the first among four such sites identified in the State, he said.

The other two lighthouses — at Rameswaram and Kanyakumari — will be opened shortly.

The four were part of 15 such lighthouses identified by DGLL for development as tourist attractions, the Union minister said.

DGLL maintained 186 lighthouses, 64 radar beacons, 23 DGPS stations and 25 deep sea navigation and wreck marking buoys, he said.

The ministry of shipping was also taking various measures to assist fishermen and improve aids to navigation, and a pilot project to identify suitable transponders for fishing vessels was in progress, said Mr. Vasan.

It was intended to caution other vessels plying close to the coastline against possible collisions. He congratulated the team led by the director general of lighthouses and lightships, Capt A.M. Surej, for completing the lighthouse heritage museum project in six months. Capt. Surej said DGLL was grateful to the Archaeological Survey of India for its assistance.

‘Boating accident: deficiencies many’

While the magisterial enquiry ordered into Sunday’s boat capsize off Port Blair would reveal the reasons behind the accident, initial reports, based on eyewitness accounts, pointed to some deficiencies, said Mr. Vasan.

From what those on the spot and some rescued passengers said, there were ‘three or four deficiencies. They felt the boat was overloaded, and were not sure if everybody had a life jacket on, or if officials had instructed them on the safety guidelines to be followed.’

All these, Mr. Vasan said, were questions the answers to which would be available only after the investigation.

On whether his ministry proposed to take any measures to prevent such accidents, Mr. Vasan said he had spoken to the governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Union home minister. I am sure they will take necessary, serious steps, so these kinds of accidents can be prevented,” he said.

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