Chennai gets ready to host Modi-Xi meet

Chennai: With just less than a week left for the much talked about informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, not just Mamallapuram but the entire Chennai has come under a security blanket, besides receiving facelift.

Civic workers are toiling round-the-clock to ensure that the town is ready for the historic meeting to be held from 11 to 13 October.

While it was not clear on how the leaders will travel to Mamallapuram from Chennai airport, it is now said that Modi will take the aerial route and Jinping will stay at a star hotel in the city and travel by road.

Preparations are going on in full swing to host the event. A helipad has been set up at Mamallapuram to receive Modi. Sources say a grand reception reflecting the culture of Tamilnadu will be accorded to Jinping at the city airport itself.

”Cultural events will be performed in front of the Chinese leader. Also, artistes will stage various programmes from Chennai till Mamallapuram,” sources add.

Security blanket
While policemen are already involved in taking details of foreign tourists visiting Mamallapuram, the stretches of ECR and OMR have also been brought under tight vigil with multi level security. CCTV cameras have been installed in strategic locations for round-the-clock surveillance.

Every vehicle that enters and leaves the place is subjected to police checking. Hotels and resorts have been advised to rent rooms only to those who have proper documents.

The residents too have been asked not to entertain any outsiders to stay in their place. Even though there is no official communication on whether tourists will be allowed to visit Mamallapuram during the summit days, it is learnt that the restaurants and shops in the town have been told to close three days before the meeting.

Giving a fresh feel
Clean up activity is being carried out in the entire stretch leading from the city to Mamallapuram in which Jinping will travel. Illegal hordings are being removed, patch works are being carried out on the roads and medians are getting a new coat of painting.

Officials from Archaeology Survey of India, State government and from the Centre are all already camped in Mamallapuram busy making arrangements. Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami also personally visited and reviewed the arrangements recently.

The four tourist attractions – Shore Temple, Five Rathas, Krishna’s butter ball and Arjuna’s Penance where the leaders will visit for photo shoots are being spruced up.

Bodhidharma’s connect
The meeting is expected to put more spotlight on the tourist spot and is expected to attract more Chinese people especially, as history suggests that the ancient port town was used by the Pallava kings to trade with China.

It is said that Buddhist Monk Bodhidharma was a Pallava prince who travelled to China and went on to become the 28th patriarch of Buddhism succeeding Prajnatara.

The meeting at the UNESCO World Heritage Site also reiterates the Centre’s commitment to hold meetings outside Delhi. In April 2014, the DefenceExpo was held near Mamallapuram.

This will be the third meeting between Modi and Jinping. The two leaders had earlier met in Ahmedabad in September 2014. In April 2018, they had held multiple meetings in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, as part of a two-day informal summit to solidify the India-China relationship.

Balasubramani Muniyandi