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Friday, Dec 13, 2019

Tamil Nadu’s Mamallapuram decks up for Modi-Xi informal summit

A Chinese delegation has already landed in the town to coordinate the preparations with the Indian hosts.

south Updated: Oct 03, 2019 06:01 IST
MC Rajan
MC Rajan
Hindustan Times, Chennai
The second informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping is yet to be officially announced
The second informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping is yet to be officially announced(AP Photo)
         

The second informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping is yet to be officially announced, but the Tamil Nadu government is going ahead with preparations for the talks it expects to host in Mamallapuram, a coastal resort town and 7th century heritage site 56 kilometres from Chennai..

On Wednesday, Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam visited Mamallapuram and inspected the arrangements being made for the summit, including security details, officials said. Top officials and police brass accompanied the two leaders.

A Chinese delegation has already landed in the town to coordinate the preparations with the Indian hosts.

Renowned for its iconic rock-cut temples and stone sculptures, Mamallapuram had been among the towns shortlisted to host the informal summit expected to take place from October 11 to 13. It has not yet been officially confirmed as the venue.

The second informal summit is expected to build on the momentum in India-China ties created by the first such meet in the Chinese city of Wuhan in April last year. The talks between Modi and Xi had helped place bilateral relations on an even keel after the 73-day military stand-off at Doklam in 2017.

Modi, in his address at the India Singapore Hackathon in Chennai last month, had advised the student participants not to miss the opportunity to visit the UNESCO heritage site.

Officials are racing against time to spruce up Mamallapuram and its surroundings.Preparations include suspension of surfing, eviction of roadside hawkers, relaying the pathways, trimming the grass around the monuments and installation of temporary illumination fixtures.

During their stay, Modi and Xi are expected to take a stroll on the beach and around the shore temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. For enhancing the ambience for the photo op, illumination lights would be installed temporarily. A team of officials from the Archaeological Survey of India visited the site last week and held discussions with state government officials.

Stone benches are being placed near the shore temple as well as the five rathas, called the Pandava rathas, each carved out of a single granite block.

The town earned its name after its founder Narasimha Pallava, a patron of arts and a legendary wrestler. Mallan in Tamil means wrestler and so the name Mamallapuram.

On record, the government is tight-lipped about the itinerary of the two leaders, but officials aware of the plans said Modi and Xi would be staying in one of the hotels in the vicinity of the heritage site. Three hotels have been shortlisted and inspected for this purpose, they said on condition of anonymity.

“In view of the summit, the coastal town as well as the heritage site has been brought under a security blanket with more than 500 cops being deployed in and around Mamallapuram. Surveillance has been enhanced with installation of CCTV cameras at all vantage points,” a senior police officer said, requesting anonymity.

While the police have suspended surfing for which the coastal town is known, fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea. .

“We have evicted over 500 hawkers and petty shops in the area in view of security for the upcoming summit,” said N Latha, executive officer, Mamallapuram Town Panchayat.

Residents of Mamallapuram have been Aadhaar-checked and told not to entertain guests until the summit is over and also inform the local police about the arrival of any outsiders. Hotels have been asked to throughly scrutinise the documents of foreigners.