I visited Marina Beach yesterday evening after a gap of more than 5 months. I could see a distinct change in the way Marina looks. Recently, Corporation of Chennai embarked on a drive to clean up Marina. As a part of this exercise, it has successfully removed hundreds of hawkers and vendors from Marina. By removing these stalls, the corporation would be able to stop loads of garbage which gets accumulated on a daily basis.
But from the visitors perspective, they have been deprived of the tasty eatables. One of the main attractions for visiting Marina Beach for me is an opportunity to taste Bajjis, Sundal, Bhel Puri. Children used to enjoy the ride on a carousel. All these are missing from Marina due to the beautification drive. Okay, understandable. But what happened to the Sodium-vapour lamps at Marina. Yesterday, the beach was totally dark with no lights. Probably, I never felt the darkness just because the food stalls were giving you the necessary lights. Corporation should ensure that Marina gets proper lighting to avoid issues like eve-teasing, chain snatching and related social evils.
I am really worried about the present status of the vendors/hawkers who have been evicted as part of the beautification drive. What they would do for their livelihood? Atleast some 2 thousand families would have depended on Marina Beach to earn their livelihood on a daily basis. Instead of Corporation trying to evict the food stalls, they can probably try to license them or hand it over to a private agency for maintenance. This would not only add to the revenue stream of the Corporation, but also ensure that there is some accountability, stability of income for the food vendors. The only restaurant which was open yesterday in the beach was "Sukh Sagar" (or is it some other sagar??!!) near the Light House and it was crowded to the maximum. Luckily "Sundal" boys were still roaming around and helped myself to a round of Pattani Sundal.
I strongly believe that Marina has undergone a change, but is it for the good!! I dont think so. Marina has lost its charm after the recent round of cleaning and eviction of hawkers as a part of the beautification drive by Corporation of Chennai. Lets wait and see how long Corporation is able to ward off these hawkers/vendors before they return back to grab their share of Marina. Singara Chennai!!!!