Saturday, March 12, 2016

Eyesore Then, Brand New Eco Park Now in Chetpet

CHENNAI: It is 7.30 pm and the last of the visitors scurry out, casting a final glance at the boats floating by the jetty and the tree sprawling over the lake illuminated with multi-coloured serial lights. For those lucky enough to enter the brand new Eco Park in the middle of the city on the first day, the experience was nothing short of surreal.
Not long ago, the same spot, which now boasts a 1.5 km walking track, fishing, boating and several other attractions, used to be nothing more than a giant swatch of water with overgrown vegetation.
But as of Saturday the Chetpet Eco Park and Anglers’ Park complex, with its LED lamps masquerading as quaint-looking lampposts, was a sight to behold. The Rs 42 crore project was inaugurated by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa through video conferencing on Saturday and is already panning out into a stress-busting destination par none. The first day alone has seen 332 people visit the park and the numbers will only grow, says the park’s management.
“The initial response has been really good,” said park manager K Ravichandar. But that is nothing compared to what the park’s management expects once the word spreads and the park’s main attractions and novelties — boating and fishing, picks up.
The two were already the most sought after attractions for the visitors on day one.
Catching the eye immediately after walking into the park was a small board listing out the entry fees — Rs 25 for a single adult and Rs 10 for a child. 
Those planning to make use of the 1.5 km walkway regularly could purchase a monthly pass for Rs 200. Or a half yearly one for Rs 1,000 and a yearly pass for Rs 2,000. As evidenced by the excited murmurs and selfie taking youngsters hanging around the jetty, boating and fishing are novelties, visitors are willing to shell out money — Rs 50 for a boat ride and Rs 300 for angling.
The lake has been seeded with a wide variety fish. For those eager to learn fishing, training facilities have also been instated with instructors. The fishing area is also separated from the hustle and bustle of the large park complex.
Children having fun at the Chetpet Eco Park that was officially opened to the public in the city on Saturday | D Sampathkumar
The park also has an amphitheatre, a cafe and seafood restaurant, a multimedia hall in the making and a children’s play area. All these will be open to the public between 9 am to 4 pm, all days except Tuesday.
“It surely looks very good, but as regular senior citizens walkers would use the park everyday we would love the park to be open to walkers free,” said M C Saklecha, a resident and executive member of the local resident’s association.
Sure enough, the sound of trains from Chetpet station and the fast moving traffic from the bridge on the Chetpet road can still be heard. But the park remains removed from the choas of the city.
Vet clinics, treatment centres in 20 districts
Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa also inaugurated a series of facilities across the state through video conferencing. A total of 162 veterinary clinics with operation theatres, treatment centres and other facilities, were inaugurated at a total cost of Rs 35.62 crore in 20 districts. This was part of the Rs 156.58 crore worth projects that she inaugurated on Saturday for the Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries department. Dairy projects include a paneer and ice cream factory worth Rs 23.46 crore and a dairy in Coimbatore.
Footfalls begin
On the first day alone, the park saw 332 visits by people. The numbers will only grow, according to the park’s management

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