Chennai lighthouse open to visitors after 22 years

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Chennai lighthouse open to visitors after 22 years
Chennai:  After over two decades, the Chennai lighthouse, overlooking the Marina beach, was today opened to visitors.

Shipping Minister GK Vasan opened 46-metre tall heritage structure to visitors.

The lighthouse, the second tallest in the world, has been the first spot of sight for mariners approaching the commercial capital of south India from Bay of Bengal.

It was closed for visitors, following security threats during the early 90s, as the triangular structure painted in red and white, functioning since 1977 is located very close to Tamil Nadu DGP Office, Forensic Laboratory, All India Radio and holy shrine of Santhome Basilica.

Mr Vasan said the Ministry has shortlisted 15 lighthouses, including Mamallapuram, Marakkanam, Kanyakumari and Rameswaram, in the country to be made tourist attractions.

"Mamallapuram lighthouse will be opened in January next, while Marakkanam lighthouse will be opened on November 30," he said.

Security arrangements have been made with cameras and smoke detectors installed at various spots and trained personnel have been deployed in the lighthouse's premises on the Kamarajar Road. Stainless steel fences have been erected on the 10th floor, till where the visitors are to be allowed.

The minister also laid the foundation for National Navtex Network intending to provide enhanced safety and security for maritime traffic.

"It is a project of over Rs 20.25 crore and is expected to be completed by December 2014," Mr Vasan said.

NAVTEX is an international automated medium frequency direct printing service for delivery of navigational and meteorological warnings and forecast, search and rescue information and pirate warnings to ships.

The Indian Navtex Network would have seven transmitting stations including Veraval, Vengurla Point, Muttom Point, Porto Novo, Vakalpudi and Balasore -- to broadcast maritime safety information to mariners up to 250 nautical miles.

An emergency NAVTEX Control Centre is also being established at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh to ensure uninterrupted service to mariners.

The network would broadcast navigational warnings, meteorological warnings and forecasts for 10 minutes at regular intervals round the clock.

The Ministry would also have monitoring stations at Okha, Ratnagiri, Azhikode, Puducherrym Dolphin's Nose, Sagar Island and Port Blair.

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