CHENNAI: Colours are synonymous with beauty. What better way to showcase the artistic prowess of city’s denizens than to use colourful artworks, in an effort to beautify the metropolis! Throw in some greenery and fountains, you get the perfect trifecta strategically placed on arterial roads and near landmarks.
‘Entrances of Chennai’, the Greater Chennai Corporation’s ambitious and pet project, is an initiative that aims to improve aesthetics of roads and bridges near railway stations, bus terminus and the airport.
“Beautification works are ongoing in front of Chennai Airport, CMBT in Koyambedu, and Egmore Railway Station. Areas near the Central Railway Station are also being beautified under the central square project. These places were chosen because it’s the first thing passengers see as soon as they step on to the main road,” said Gagandeep Singh Bedi, Chennai Corporation Commissioner.
Under the initiative, artworks are being created on the flyover opposite the airport and potted greens are being planted using biomined soil on the centre median. The civic body has availed permission from the State Highways Department since the road and the bridge are maintained by the department.
Similarly, shrubbery is also being planted on the centre median in Jawaharlal Nehru High Road from Ashok Pillar to the Koyambedu bus stand.
Also, artworks are being created under the newly constructed flyover in Koyambedu and several varieties of greens are installed on the centre median of the bridge at a cost of around Rs 26 lakh.
The GCC has already installed artificial fountains on either side of Gandhi-Irwin Road near Egmore Railway Station. It has also created artificial fountains in 22 places across the city including near Raj Bhavan, Old Commissioner Office, Spencer Plaza, Marina Beach, and War Memorial.
However, city residents complain that the operation of some of the fountains is erratic as civic workers fail to switch them on in the evening. “The fountains near Egmore Railway Station were not working for around a week,” said a shopkeeper near the station.
The beautification process began as a way to prevent wall posters from coming up again, as the GCC had conducted a city-wide drive a few months ago to remove them. Initially, the artworks on the walls were volunteered by artists. Now, the beautification drive has evolved, as tenders are being floated to carry out painting and planting works.
“We’re providing basic facilities to city residents. At the same time, it’s also important to make Chennai look beautiful and aesthetic,” Bedi added.
On the other hand, Jayaram Venkatesan, convenor of Arappor Iyakkam opined that the beautification works should be carried out only if the civic body has a surplus fund, “which it doesn’t,” he added. “Corporation claims a shortage of funds for basic works like solid waste management. Also, these types of projects are an easier way to commit corruption. GCC is painting and re-painting the same medians or public walls again and again. What’s the point really?”
150 new parks to come up
The GCC has proposed to create 150 new parks and 50 playfields across the city at a cost of Rs 100 crore. A Corporation official said that new 28 parks and 18 playfields have been created recently. “As a part of the beautification project, the park in Marina Beach has been renovated and our focus now is on north Chennai,” Gagandeep Singh Bedi said.
Meanwhile, civic engineers have been asked to identify vacant spaces for creating the proposed parks and playfields. Presently, the city has 718 parks and 163 roadside parks. The GCC also decided to coordinate with residents’ welfare associations (RWA) and requested the associations to plant at least 600 saplings on their behalf.