Mamallapuram all set to get a facelift, thanks to Modi-Xi meet

Prime Minister wrote to CM Edappadi Palaniswami about the plan last month

Thanks to the recent informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese president Xi Jinping and the former’s personal interest, officials of the Centre and Tamil Nadu governments are putting together a major plan to develop Mamallapuram, the historic town on the East Coast Road.

Official sources privy to the matter said Prime Minister Modi, in his letter to Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami last month, proposed to develop the coastal town and went on to offer financial assistance from various Central government departments. The letter that came in the third week of October advocated a policy to develop Mamallapuram. “Based on the Prime Minister’s letter, the Chief Minister has instructed officials to come up with proposals for developing infrastructure and other plans in Mamallapuram. We are coordinating with the Centre and will present our plan to them soon,” they said.

Officials said the State government has written to the Director-General of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) about arranging light shows at ancient monuments around the town.

Jayalalithaa-era projects

Some tourism and heritage enthusiasts pointed out that former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had major plans for Mamallapuram, much before Prime Minister showed interest, but they remain on paper since her death in December 2016.

The oceanarium and maritime museum with a decommissioned submarine from the Navy were two projects that the former Chief Minister wanted to implement, but they were yet to take shape, they pointed out.

The oceanarium, which was to come up at a cost of over ₹250 crore in Mamallapuram, would be a huge glass tunnel into the sea, providing an underwater view of marine life.

The museum planned to use the decommissioned submarine INS Vagli in the coastal town.

When asked about the oceanarium, a senior officer from the Fisheries Department, said it was “still alive” but didn’t mention when it was likely to take off. As for the submarine museum project, the government decided to abandon it.

Sources informed The Hindu that a foreign country from which the submarine was acquired offered help in mounting the submarine on the ground.

“But, it sought funds which was not accepted by the State. Now, a third party has sought the submarine for the same plan in another coastal town in Tamil Nadu,” they added.

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