Grandma\’s Tales

February 17, 2007

Want to save Elliot’s beach? 4

Filed under: Games People Play,Society — Rajesh @ 10:36 pm

David Appasamy, a good friend wrote this in Chennai Metro Blog in response to my posts on what’s happening to Elliot’s beach.
Email Address: davaps@gmail.com
URL: http://www.davidappasamy.blogspot.com
Comments: I posted on the Corporations plans for Elliots Beach a while back on this blog after seeing the drawings and reading about it in the ET Madras +. What is being planned are facilities for many sections of the public to be able to use the beach, and the area near the road with with leisure and parking facilties. The actual stretch of sand and beach is largely untouched but for a ‘spine’, or paved pathway flanked by foliage, leading down to the waters edge in the middle so that the elderly (unsteady on their feet), and the handicapped in wheel chairs can get to the waters edge. I thought it was done well, and in fact, added to the attraction of the beach rather than despoil it. As you know I am usually strongly against the so called ‘beautification’ done by our government whic usually consists of terraces or mounds with impossibly statues of buxom women pouring water out of pots! However, what I saw from the drawings were plans that would add to the attraction of the beach, without taking away from it. So I would suggest everyone take a good, close look at the plans before deciding whether its good or bad. For one, I think its necessary to provide those facilities as the city’s population grows and more people descend on the beach. 

Thanks David, for that input. Where can I see the plan? Is it on the Internet somewhere?
Yeah, this road running across the beach to the waterfront with foliage on either side, we will assume, adds to the “beauty” of the beach. But this “concern for the handicapped in wheechairs” bothers me.
Were people in wheelchairs consulted before the plans were drawn? Were organisations like Shakti Foundation or Vidya Sagar who specialise in Universal Design, consulted? Were the elderly who visit the beach daily, consulted? Isn’t a thorough public debate necessary before the corporation decides to spend large amounts of public money? Why don’t they hold a meeting on the beach about this?
Another point. Where is the space for the pathway? As it is the beach is almost fully occupied by food-carts (did you ever inhale the vapours of repeatedly-fried oil? You get that throughout the evening now. Most of us have forgotten what a beachfront should smell like), ride operators and hawkers. Where will they all go? Where will they find space for parking facilities?
And how are the disabled supposed to reach the pathway? That is why I said the least the corporation could do instead of making grandiose plans is to build proper ramps to the promenade. Let the elderly get on to the promenade without much effort. Now they need help. So do moms with strollers. Mind you, I am not even asking for proper footpaths and curb cuts on all roads leading to the beach. That will help the elderly to walk down to the beach.
I am sorry, the corporation’s track record vis-a-vis making life easier for the disabled will not win them an award. How many corporation buildings are disabled-friendly? Once again, let me remind you of the law – Persons with Disabilities Act – 1995 which clearly states that all public buildings must be accessible.
If the corporation is genuinely interested in making the beach accessible to “many sections of the public” they can do these first.
[1] Use that machine and clean up the sand. My 5-year-old grandchild picked up glass pieces (extremely dangerous), construction debris, pieces of balloon, leftovers from snacks, kite thread and, hold your breath, a condom. She was picking up shells. Anyone taking a child to the beach will agree that the dilapidated building meant for changing stinks. We have to keep the kids away from it.
[2] Organise the speed limit on the beach roads. All of us have seen drag races there.
And read all the other suggestions made by Mr. Satyanarayanan to make the beach a better place to visit (quoted in a previous post).
If the officials of this city had any concern for those who have weak legs, they would never have built that flyover that sweeps down into LB Road. It has effectively killed the footpath on either side. Ironically, the flyover overlooks the corporation building.
If the officials have concern for those who use crutches or those who have difficulty walking, they would not have built those 12 polished steps to reach the MRTS station at Mylapore. Have you seen the approach roads to the other stations? Again ironically, these trains are less crowded and the disabled might have a comfortable journey on them. Dr. Sushma Veeramani who is visually impaired takes that ride every day to Madras University. She says she needs someone to accompany her.
Will the officials make it easy for the disabled to reach the beach before they make it easy for them to reach the water?
Beautifying the beach? Impose a stiff fine on anyone littering the place. You will see a dramatic change there. And those who visit the beach, please co-operate. All you need to do is brush up your primary school lesson: Keep the surroundings clean.

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