Even as the Tamil Nadu government announced an extension of the COVID-19 lockdown until the end of October this year with some relaxations in place, the popular Marina beach in Chennai remains closed. Taking cognisance of this, the Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) to consider reopening the beach to the public, once again.
Marina beach in Chennai was made off-limits to the public in March, a little before the nation-wide lockdown was announced. GCC is expected to file a detailed report in this regard by October 5.
A two-member Bench comprising Justices Vineet Kothari and Krishnan Ramasamy directed GCC to submit reports with updates on regulating vendors by issuing identity cards and distributing uniform, new pushcarts, and the timeline on shifting fishermen and fish vendors from the loop road to the market complex.
Additionally, the court also asked to be updated on GCC’s plan to improve the facilities at the beach seafront and on the construction of the walking path near Pattinapakkam (Foreshore Estate).
Additional Advocate General SR Rajagopal who appeared for the state government said that the Corporation was yet to make a final decision on reopening of the beach.
While remarking that there was no reason not to reopen the beach, given that the government had already relaxed other lockdown norms to a certain extent, the court also added that allowing the public to the beach is a policy decision of the GCC and the state and that the court would not interfere in it.
On Monday, the Tamil Nadu government issued new guidelines for the lockdown. While allowing eateries, tea shops to remain open until 9 pm and food delivery services to function until 10 pm, it continued to keep some services shut.
This includes schools, colleges, research institutes and all educational institutions, theaters, swimming pools, entertainment and amusement parks, big and small public congregations, beaches, tourist places and places thronged by people.