Imagine a serene, virgin beach - white sands, blue water, a vast expanse with no clutter… Imagine being at the La Digue beach in Seychelles, the Tarifa Beach in Spain or Miami Beach, Florida. Now transport yourself to Marina Beach, Chennai, the second longest beach in the world. People squatting in rows, answering the call of Nature.
Revolting thought? Well, the city supplement of The Hindu, Metroplus, recently jolted its readers with a half-page ad showing precisely this: the Marina Beach as it is today juxtaposed with another set of beautiful beaches. The campaign simply asked, 'Marinavai maathalla vaa?' (Shall we change the Marina?)
This campaign from Lowe, Chennai, is a goodwill gesture for Citizens Rights Activist Group (CRAG), a non-profit organisation that is working towards a clean and safe Marina. Through the ad, CRAG has sought suggestions from people, asking them to help in taking this initiative forward.
However, before CRAG showed this embarrassing reality through the ad, it filed a public interest litigation (PIL) at the Madras High Court. The PIL directed various respondents (including the Corporation of Chennai, the Central and the State Governments, the State Pollution Control Board and the Commissioner of Police) to implement a range of measures to ensure a clean Marina. "Our first hurdle was crossed when the first Bench of the High Court, which is presided over by the Chief Justice, admitted the petition a little over two months ago," says Dilip R Mehta, chairman, CRAG, who is also the managing director of RPG Cellular Services.
The next move was to generate interest in this cause through the media, and to get corporate houses involved. And because Lowe handles the RPG 'Wings' account, it was roped in to do the job. Mehta says determinedly, "Through the legal route, we want Marina beach to be declared as a National Heritage. And by using our infrastructure, we will work to involve corporate houses and young people in this. I am also on CII's committee for corporates' role towards a better environment. I'm hoping that at a personal level, I can do something for this cause."
The Hindu, meanwhile, has decided to lend itself to the cause for the next two months. "We are based in this city and represent its cause," observes N Murali, joint managing director, The Hindu. "We have decided to give advertising and editorial space for this. It is pathetic to see what a beautiful coastline has been reduced to. People can no longer spend time there due to several anti-social elements as well."
"We certainly need all the support we can get at this stage, but we are looking at actually creating infrastructure to support this," says Mehta. "This means that campaigns will certainly take a more professional tone down the line when corporates come forward to sponsor this at different levels. The details are yet to take shape. It could be a situation where someone sponsors the ads, someone takes ownership over a certain patch of the beach to keep it clean etc."
Provided help pours in from the expected quarters, the second longest beach in the world could one day become a beach-lover's haven. But it will call for a lot of concerted action before the image of 'the world's longest open-air lavatory' fades from memory. Â© 2002 agencyfaqs!