The best place of all?

Will the beach be turned into a fortress?  

IF YOU love thrillers, picture this scene...

It's dusk. Traffic — peak hour. Just as you look at the newly constructed Secretariat and think about how ugly it stood over the grave of a heritage building — and just as you think of the institution that defined lives of thousands over nearly a century, there's a blast. It's some kind of terrorist activity alright.

Within a few feet away is Agent X — the person, who caused the damage, watching the scene, with his feet still rooted to where he stood when he fired — an MRTS train. But in eight minutes after that, X's in a crowded MRTS railway station — that could be either Mylai or the Beach or for all you know — he got off at Light-house or Triplicane or Chepauk or any thing else in between.

Cut to where QMC once stood, police run helter-skelter as they comb the whole beach — to be specific, that amounts to nearly 2962 suspects — if they include everybody at the beach. If they were to include people involved in peak hour rush traffic — that's another 2645 suspects if the police do manage to take all of them into custody. If you add hostelites, passers-by and other civilians who happen to be in a one kilometre radius from the scene of crime, that's another 5345 people.

A total of 10,000 plus suspects but still not good enough. Because X who was travelling by a train would be in a different state all together having made the perfect getaway, by the time the police realise the truth.

THAT is not entirely a fictitious, cinematic or impossible situation. For the choice of the long beach and among the most populated beach for the location of a high security building such as the Secretariat, could spell out to be a nightmare for security guards and citizens alike.

There are thousands of people who frequent the Marina. On some days, there may be a lakh people from all over the State there. There are thousands of commuters who use the Kamarajar Salai, which is already crowded, because it is a shorter route and better alternative to the hustling bustling Anna Salai. It is a road that is part and parcel of thousands of students from the Madras University, Presidency College and the Queen Mary's College. Which practically means that lakhs of lives would now have to re-adjust to the situation because suddenly, someone gets this imaginative thought of shifting the Secretariat to the beachfront!

Not many citizens like the fact that the beach is closed to the public after 11 p.m. It is supposed to be such a dangerous place, they are told. If it is that dangerous that security cannot be provided to citizens, one might wonder whether it will be off limits for a different reason, if the `high security' Secretariat were to be located there.

Maybe, creative strategists would next come up with a solution to curb and/or monitor public movement around the building. Monitor how many people? Thousands! And what kind of security and bandobust would that take? Hundreds! And the possibility that something could still go wrong after all that? Very high! For then, there need to be security personnel installed on every MRTS train, every single MTC bus that passes that way, every car — the volume of traffic and people is just too much to keep track of.

Forget the money that needs to be spent. The resources needed for providing security and changing everything else — creating newer routes, building other roads (more flyovers?) spill into crores of rupees from the money that so many citizens using that road, pay out of their blood and sweat as tax.

Banning traffic, curbing movement and monitoring amounts to affecting lives of lakhs of people who use that road. Now, who would think affecting lakhs of lives for the convenience of a few makes sense?

By Sudhish Kamath

Photo: K.V. Srinivasan