T.S. Atul Swaminathan
Commuting through all modes of transport, several thousands of Chennaiites thronged the Book Fair at YMCA Nandanam, Elliot’s Beach, Tourism Fair at the Island Grounds, Vandaloor Zoo, Guindy National Park, Marina Beach and Chennai Snake Park on the occasion of ‘Kaanum Pongal’, on Wednesday. Amusement parks, and entertainment zones on East Coast Road were packed to the core.
The scenic ECR was busy with vehicles zooming. Despite the barricades put up by the Chennai City Traffic Police to curb over-speeding, people continued to flout traffic rules and regulations, driving haphazardly much to the discomfort of road-users.
It was a common sight to see more than three persons riding on a motorcycle across the city.
People came to Marina and Besant Nagar Beach with packed lunches including tamarind, tomato and curd rice and other snacks, played Cricket and Frisbee throw, danced, sang songs, with their families and friends on the sands till dusk.
The Metropolitan Transport Corporation ran extra-special buses to clear the festive-rush. Ticket checking staff of the Metropolitan Transport Corporation were deployed at the bus stops of major tourist spots including VGP Golden Beach, Kovalam and Marina Beach.
The old cone speakers tied to multiple lampposts on Marina Beach were blaring with instructions advising the public not to talk, and not to accept eatables from strangers.
More than 15,000 policemen were on bandobust duty across the city to ensure that no untoward incidents take place. In Marina Beach, two Police booths, one at Gandhi Statue, and another at Triumph of Labour Statue; in Besant Nagar, the regular Police booth, were set up to assist the public in case of an emergency. A medical unit and an ambulance was stationed at the Marina Beach for emergencies.
Wooden barricades were set up at the Elliot’s Beach and the Marina Beach to prevent the public from taking bath in the sea.
At Marina, mounted policemen were patrolling the shoreline, whereas at Besant Nagar, fishermen from the nearby fishing hamlets and Police went on regular sea patrol from Tuesday. People started flocking to Besant Nagar Beach as early as 11 a.m. However, the crowd was normal at Thiruvanmiyur and Besant Nagar Beach.
After visiting Marina Beach, many people with their friends and families, moved towards the tourism fair at the Island Grounds. Additional ticket-counters were operated at the Guindy National Park to manage the surging crowd.
The Kaanum Pongal crowd mainly consisted of families. ‘I came with my family from Egmore to catch up with a new release. We couldn’t get the tickets. On our way back home, we decided to spend some time at the Marina Beach and Tourism Fair at the Island Grounds,” said R. Kannan.