As Mahabalipuram gears up for the visit of Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday and Saturday, residents of the tourist town are happy and said that this is the first time they are witnessing Mahabalipuram in such a clean and beautiful state in the past several years.
S Prakash (29), an auto driver, said, “I have been sitting without any rides for a couple of days and the situation would be the same till Saturday as there is a restriction on the movements of tourists. But, despite that, I am happy that the Chinese President is visiting our town. I believe that this meeting would help bring development to India in the future.”
Being one of the famous tourist spots in the world, many people from different countries visit the place regularly to admire the sculptures and other historic artefacts. Residents feel that this is the first time in their lifetime they are witnessing such a clean and green hometown. Despite being one of the famous tourist spots, officials had not taken any steps to develop the infrastructure, residents claimed.
“Within the past one month, we have seen many developments in Mahabalipuram,” said N Balaganapathi (38), who runs a provisional store. “I am happy that this meeting will be held in Mahabalipuram. We got new roads, streetlights, new paintings and a clean town because of this meeting. Tamil Nadu’s civic issues will be solved if such meetings are held regularly.”
R Kasinadan (41), who runs a juice shop, said, “We don’t know whether this meeting will bring development to the country. But we are hoping that there will be some development and are willing to sacrifice our business.” He added that it will be great if Mahabalapuram remains the same even after the meeting.
After ASI banned tourists from the town, P Pugalenthi (26), a guest house manager, said, “Business has been dull for the last few days but we are happy that our Prime Minister and Chinese President have chosen our town.”
Another guest house manager, A Raj (42), said that he was not sure of the outcome of the meeting. “I cannot say it will bring developments but because of this many hotels and guest houses are suffering losses.”
While fishermen were asked not to venture into the sea from Tuesday, even the local livestock farmers have been asked to tie their animals inside their compounds. They said that those three days will be hard for them and they cannot even have a meal properly. They urged the government to compensate them for the losses.
In most of the areas, there are frequent power shutdowns every day due to repair works and replacing of cables that go on till midnight. Mohamed Shariff (66), who owns a petty shop, said, “The business has been dull for the last few days. The meeting is not going to bring any change except that poor people like us are being affected.”
The seaside town has been decorated with lights and the area is under CCTV surveillance. Shore Temple, Five Rathas, Krishna’s Butter Ball and Arjuna’s Penance, which are said to be visited by the leaders and their entourage, are decorated and newly painted. The pathways have been laid with grass and many paintings about the Tamil culture adorn the walls. Residents feel that this should continue and their town should be maintained properly even after the meeting is over.