Chennai, Oct 10 (IANS) The Tamil Nadu government is literally leaving no stone unturned to accord a grand welcome to Chinese President Xi Jinping on his maiden two-day visit to the state on Friday.
The Chinese President will land here on Friday afternoon and at about 4 p.m., he will travel by road in his Hongqi luxury car to Mahabalipuram to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The two leaders will go around the UNESCO World Heritage Site housing rock-cut and stone carved monuments.
It has been learnt that Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami and others will receive Xi Jinping on his arrival at the airport.
The Swachh Bharat programme is being implemented in its true form in Mahabalipuram and at a couple of stretches in Chennai with even small garbage being cleaned up, roads and pavements being relaid and walls being painted with attractive images and others.
“Wish the Chinese President takes a tour of the whole city so that the entire city gets cleaned up,” is the general refrain of the citizens here.
Electric transformers or power junction boxes have been covered and roadside shops are being evicted so as to present a pleasant sight to the visiting dignitary.
The airport is also being spruced up and cultural programmes are scheduled to welcome Modi and Xi Jinping.
An eight-feet stone sculpture of Goddess Meenakshi has been temporarily installed at the Chennai airport. The sculpture was supplied by Mayan Handicrafts, Mahabalipuram.
As part of the welcoming programme, students from schools and colleges and others will stand on the pavements waving Indian and Chinese national flags to greet Xi Jinping on his way to ITC Grand Chola Hotel from the airport and from there to Mahabalipuram.
The Tamil Nadu government has also organised troupes from different parts of the state to showcase the various traditional cultures of the state. The troupes are training hard here for the past two days.
They will perform on the stages erected for Xi Jinping to see while he is enroute Mahabalipuram from the ITC Grand Hotel.
While Modi will spend the Friday night at a beach resort near Mahabalipuram, the Chinese President will drive back to the ITC Grand Chola Hotel.
On Saturday morning, Xi Jinping will again go to Mahabalipuram by road and have discussions with Modi.
Meanwhile, security has been tightened at Mahabalipuram and Chennai. The state police have deployed thousands of security forces to thwart any untoward incident and CCTV cameras have been installed at several places.
“We were asked to keep our shops open during Modi and Xi Jinping’s visit,” Mayan Rajesh of Mayan Handicrafts told IANS. Mayan Handicrafts is a major player in the stone sculpture industry in Mahabalipuram.
“However, the movements of the local people are restricted. Residents have been asked to return back to their homes before 10 p.m. failing which they won’t be allowed inside the town,” another local person told IANS.
The people of this tourist town are happy as the town wears a festive look with new saplings being planted as road dividers. Also, the street lights have been replaced with LED bulbs.
“All the buildings located on the routes to be taken by the two leaders got a fresh coat of white paint at government’s cost. Further, the giant sized stone sculptures were moved with the help of cranes brought by the local authorities,” Rajesh added.
However, those whose livelihood is dependent on tourism have suffered a big hit as many tourists are staying away.
As part of the security measures, road traffic has been diverted from the routes to be taken by Xi Jinping for two days.
As Mahabalipuram is a coastal town, the Indian Coast Guard and the Navy will intensify their patrolling.
Fishermen in the nearby villages have been instructed not to venture into the sea for the next two days.
According to a local trader, Chinese security personnel were at Mahabalipuram even 15 days back and were going around like tourists, even buying entry tickets to see the monuments.
“The same persons are now coming as part of the Chinese official team,” the trader told IANS.