Minister for Forests Benoy Viswom will inaugurate the newly constructed ticket counter for boating in the Thekkady Lake on Sunday.

The counter has been constructed at a cost of Rs.17 lakh near the boat-landing station.

The facility will enable tourists to get the tickets directly, avoiding middlemen and agents. Queue system will be introduced in the counter to avoid rush, and tickets will be issued on a ‘first come, first served basis.'

The entry of persons to the boat will also be made accountable, as there will be a record of the exact number of tickets issued and the name of the persons who enter the boat.

The new counter was constructed on the orders of the Forest Minister, who had asked to demolish another counter which was being built outside the boat-landing station as it blocked the view of the lake from the road.

The tickets issued to foreign tourists became a bone of contention between the Forest Department and hotel managements two years ago after the former issued a notification that the tourists should directly collect the tickets, as there were complaints that middlemen and hotel employees collected tickets for their guests. The hotel managements came out against this arguing that it would affect the tourism industry.

Heavy rush resulting in clashes between the tourists were also witnessed during the peak seasons and holidays.

There were also allegations that the number of persons travelling on the boat often exceeded the limit as the crew accommodated many ticket-less travellers as well.

A Forest Department official said that the new counter and the ticket issuing system would ensure transparency, and limit the number of passengers in each service.

Besides the Forest Department, the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation also conducts boat services in the lake.

The boat tragedy in the lake on September 30, 2009, in which 45 people died highlighted the unauthorised entry of persons to the boats, as there were conflicting reports on the number of travellers on the capsized boat.

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