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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Marina beach ... .. .. and the articulate IAS Officer Mr Gagandeep Singh Bedi

I admire him and was so happy to see him at Marina the other day – he graciously posed for a photo and a second later, I hesitantly asked whether I can have a photo taken standing alongside – he obliged and made me happy .. ..  an IAS Oficer who few years back floored everyone the other day at a function presided by the then  Chief Minister Ms J. Jayalalithaa with his flawless Tamil. The occasion was to honour the relief and rescue teams that did a splendid work after the collapse of an 11-storey structure at Mugalivakkam in Chennai, which killed 61 construction workers. ~ added significance was that the person whose diction too was perfect -  has his mothertongue ‘Punjabi’……… the Official is Mr  Gagandeep Singh Bedi, no stranger to Tamilnadu.


Mr. Bedi, shot to International acclaim for  organising the relief and rehabilitation as Cuddalore Collector at the time of  December 2004 Tsunami.  Flawless and so involved was his execution of relief efforts that he was praised by locals, victims, those involved in relief operations, Government, Press and others.  He had also won the Green Award  for his environmental projects in Kanyakumari district. 

Early morning the famous Marina beach used to offer intriguing things.   Nearer the Ocean, it is more enticing ! – one can hear the sea, the sound of waves, the  waves jumping and touching the shore and then submitting themselves to the shore but trying to comeback to conquer again ! would be very interesting sight  – One  can see monstrous  ships anchored in the middle of vast Ocean, some fishing boats and Sun coming out as a red ball from the Sea – all great sights to behold.  Bay of Bengal (Vanga Kadal) is an enticer – one gets lost in its beauty watching the waves and ships.    The famed Marina beach winds its way alongside the beautiful Bay of Bengal – starting a kilo meter or so away from Fort St George, it has Madras University,  Ezhilagam, PWD,  Presidency College, Vivekananda memorial,  Lady Willington school, Queen Marys College, IG of Police Office, dotting the beach road now named Kamarajar salai.  .. . it also has samadhi of 4 past CMs. .. .. and .. .. .. there are statues of  Poets : Kambar, Ilango, Avvaiyar, Thiruvalluvar, Bharathiyar, Barathidasan standing, Tholkappiyar (sitting)  amidst Kannagi, Gandhiji, Kamarajar, Nethaji Subash Chandrabose, Annie Besant, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Sivananda, Robert Caldwell, GU Pope, Tamil thatha SaminathaIyer  as also the one of ‘triumph of Labour’ – and recently added a bronze statue of former CM Ms J Jayalalithaa  - this is post is about such addition.

The Marina beach  is officially out of bounds for visitors, but crowds gather every evening.  Though the famous beach is closed, the crowd remains uncontrollable even on weekdays. As per the directive, only walkers are allowed on the service lane stretch from 5am to 9am. The limited Police force that has to spend on VIP security too is not able to stop people   from venturing into the sands ! On the recent Bakrid,   large number of men and women came to the famous sands in the evening, frolicking in the water and moving in close proximity to each other.  Funnily enough people wear mask on their jaws !! 

This is no Covid post either  .. .. now a  mighty shark, a mermaid, a prawn – all greet visitors standing on the grass parks  along Kamarajar Salai off Marina beach, in the stretch  Queen Marys College to Vivekanandar illam.  They are attractive and are not regular ones -  made of automobile scrap. The city corporation is setting up such ‘junk art’ along important stretches in the city. Aside from the asethetic appeal, the move is aimed at creating awareness on waste recycling.  It is stated that Chennai Corporation has  procured them all from Andhra Pradesh-based sculptor P Srinivasa Rao, 49.  The Vijayawada native, a sculptor for more than two decades, and his team began making sculptures using automobile scrap about seven years ago and they are now present in many places in  Southern states.

“This is also one method of waste management. We procure automobile scrap from local mechanics to industrial waste at a cheap price and then convert them into art. My idea is that art should reach to the common man. Also, there is no need for galleries and these can be exhibited in a public place and require less maintenance,” Rao told TOI. Civic body officials too expressed optimism that these structures will add to the aesthetic appeal. Less than a year ago, corporation installed a typographic sculpture, ‘Namma Chennai’, near Marina beach which has now become an important landmark and a popular selfie point.

As part of Chennai Corporation’s ‘Singara Chennai 2.0’ initiative to beautify the city, the officials are taking steps in setting up junk arts in important stretches. As an Initial step, 14 structures are planned to be set up across the city. The Greater Chennai Corporation has its own scrap yard where automobile metal scraps are discarded. Speaking to, Chennai Corporation Commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi said they are in the process of putting up one structure after another. He added that the corporation is implementing these initiatives not just to beautify the city but also to bring more awareness on waste recycling.  Mr Bedi further stated that Corporation  had provided 15 tonnes of metal scrap to these artists to create these structures and is spending  about Rs 29  lakhs.    

These sculptures made of automobile spare parts look attractive .. .. even in the midst of Covid 19, Mr Gagandeepsingh Bedi IAS is taking these steps, at the same time ensuring Covid control, organizing vaccination camps and taking civic measures.

Mr Bedi stands tall and kudos to officials like him.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
1st Aug 2021. 

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