It would take at least a month for tourists and schoolchildren to climb atop the Madras Light House to have a bird’s eye view of the city, Marina beach and the Bay of Bengal, as preparations for installing safety devices are still on.
Talking to The Hindu, Shipping Minister, G.K. Vasan, said: “Given that schoolchildren and elders are going to visit these places, we have to give importance to safety aspects.
Hence, we are not in a hurry to throw open the light houses to visitors. I have asked officials to adhere to safety guidelines completely. After ensuring that the safety measures are in place, we can open it for public viewing. It might take a month or two.”
Light House Tourism was conceived by the Shipping Ministry to enable visitors to learn about maritime history, historical events and the country’s cultural heritage. The proposal was mooted to develop tourism and the Madras Light House will be the first one in the State to entertain visitors, followed by Mamallapuram.
An official attached to the Directorate General of Light Houses and Lightships said they were in the process of placing orders for a new passenger lift as the existing one was being used for 37 years. Besides, it also called for creating visitors’ gallery, maritime museum, fencing and beautifying the lawn. Eight to 10 staffers have to be employed for issue of tickets, gardening, surveillance, lift operations, maintenance and for security purposes.
Using the lift, visitors will be allowed to go up to the ninth floor and thereafter, they have to climb a few steps to reach the 10 floor for a spectacular view. On any given day, they will be allowed between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. and as a special case, schoolchildren may be allowed after 10 a.m. Entrance fee is yet to be fixed, said the official.
Construction of a maritime museum is on the anvil at Mamallapuram Light House and visitors have to wait for one more month.