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Vol. XXXIII No. 22, March 1-15, 2024

City Beautiful then, Singara Chennai now

On Dec 3, 1968, the then Mayor of Madras, Velur Narayanan, addressed the Rotary Club of Madras. We reproduce here the report of the event, courtesy Lighthouse, the weekly bulletin of the Rotary Club of Madras. We leave it to our readers to gauge whether civic conditions have changed (or not) in the city.
– The Editor

Addressing the luncheon meeting on 3rd December 1968, the new Mayor, Madras, Mr. V. Narayanan expressed his firm determination to bring back to Madras city its age-old quality of being “The City beautiful”. Speaking on the topical theme “The City beautiful”, the Worshipful Mayor frankly admitted that Madras city had, in recent years, become thoroughly unclean and spoilt and was today in a deplorably pathetic condition mainly due to “politicians”. If one political party wanted to launch on a certain programme of improvement, the opposing parties shed “crocodile tears” and roused the passions of the poor people against the implementation of necessary measures.

Addressing the large audience of Rotarians, Mr. Narayanan observed that as the newly elected Mayor of this great city, it was necessary for him – as well as the need of the hour for all concerned – to face hard facts of today’s conditions in the city and rectify them without being afraid of the consequences.

Giving an instance, the Mayor admitted that the Marina with its second best beach in the world had been turned into a vast lavatory and there was no more any pleasure for anyone including High Court judges to take a stroll alongside the waterfront or relax on the velvetty sands. Is it wrong if he was determined to make the Marina a really worthwhile and inviting place for the relaxation of the millions of citizens, he asked amidst loud applauding from the large gathering. “I want to clear the encroachments all along the beach and make it beautiful once again”, he promised.

Mr. Narayanan further assured his audience that he would make determined efforts to remove all obstructions that had come upon the pedestrian pavements in most of the thoroughfares in recent years. Huts, way side temples etc. were all, today obstructing pedestrian traffic. He was not to be misunderstood as either unsympathetic to the poor people who had built huts or to the sentiments of the citizens who were responsible for the temples. He was willing to provide alternate sites for such temples elsewhere. But he would insist on enforcing that platforms and side walks were intended for pedestrians and that the present state of, affairs wherein they were used for all other purposes except for which they were intended continued no more.

The Mayor disclosed, to his shocked audience, that he had been accused as an athiest for attempting to do this and declared “if my head is to be cut off for this purpose, I am prepared to die. My decision to put an end to this is irreversible.”

The Mayor informed the ­Rotarians that he had already taken many steps to effectively deal with the difficult and delicate problem of stray animals including cattle, dogs, pigs, etc. all over the place which was a menace to the healthy and orderly life of the citizens in Madras.

After giving a statistical review of the growing requirements of Madras city during the last 30 years, Mr. Narayanan said that the two big measures, i.e. bringing Cauveri water and cleaning of the Coovum, which had waited for Government’s sanction for the last 20 years, have now been taken up in right earnest by the ruling D.M.K. Government. This gave them hope that an effective and lasting answer to two of the major problems they had faced so far had now been found. They had also to enlarge the drainage system considerably and this would also get his earnest attention.

Lastly, the Mayor made an appeal to all the industrial and commercial institutions in Madras city to come forward and take the responsibility of maintaining traffic island gardens so that may go a long way to contribute to make the city beautiful. He proposed to institute a rotating shield for the best maintained island garden in the city so as to serve as an encouragement to the participants in this important scheme.

Earlier Rtn. P.S. Rajaratnam introduced the distinguished Speaker and Rtn. Past President D.S. Sastri proposed a hearty vote of thanks.

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  1. Vinay Kumar says:

    The ill informed mayor Mr Narayan should be rightly informed that the Madras beach is the second longest beach in the world and was never certified as the second best.

  2. Pingback: Madras – City Beautiful then, Singara Chennai now

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