In a few months, visitors to the Chetpet Eco Park will be able to feel what it is to be inside an aquatic environment as they watch schools of fish swim past, turtles ride the waves and watch plants sway on the sea bed.
Construction work for a ₹6 crore virtual reality centre is on at full swing at the lake that already has several facilities, including for boating and an amphitheatre, angling centre, 3D theatre and 1.5 km long walkers pathway.
At the virtual reality centre, visitors can either be seated and soak in the aquatic experience or walk around. The work is expected to be completed in five months.
Fisheries Secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi said that simultaneously, work on the required software and technology for the virtual reality centre is getting ready. “We will have different programmes, in addition to the underwater world, so we can keep changing. Each programme would perhaps run for 20 to 30 minutes,” he said.
Recently, Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar visited the park and asked officials to speed up the work. He recalled that the project had been envisaged and announced by former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.
Since the boating facility is quite popular, more boats will be added soon.
An aquarium will be an added attraction. “This will contain 11 tanks and have fresh water and marine fish in 5x12 feet tanks,” Mr. Jayakumar said. Only the Zoological Survey of India has an aquarium on Santhome High Road. The one that was set up in October 1909 on the Marina is the oldest in the country. It was damaged in the tsunami.
Parking lot coming up
A parking lot and a restaurant are also coming up on land belonging to the Fisheries department adjacent to the lake. The Chetpet lake gets around 2,000 visitors each on Saturday and Sunday and during festivals, 3,000.
The facility that is closed on Tuesdays, remains open between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. for the public for which an entry fee of ₹25 for adults and ₹10 for children is charged. For regular walkers however, the park opens much earlier.