KSBB plans to set up biodiversity museum at the heritage monument

Better days await the Vallakkadavu boathouse that has been lying abandoned since an extensive renovation four years ago, if the plans of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) work out. During the glory days of the Travancore kingdom, the boathouse was the nerve centre of commercial activity in the waterway connecting the two ends of the State.

The KSBB has held discussions with the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC), the present custodians of the boathouse, to turn the heritage monument into a National Biodiversity Museum that will showcase the State’s wealth of ecological diversity, with emphasis on the Western Ghats.

Over six months ago, the KSBB even contemplated shifting its office to the refurbished structure. The idea to set up a museum here evolved later. The interiors will be transformed with panels and visuals to portray the flora and fauna of the State.

“Through the replicas, we seek to make the viewers feel as though they have been transported to the Ghats,” said Oommen V. Oommen, Chairman, KSBB.

Solar panels would be installed to light the interiors of the ‘green’ building.

“The pool of water between the docks and the archway that marks the entrance will be cleared completely, and turned into an aquatic ecosystem of sorts,” he said. This would not be easy, as the water was severely polluted and filled with water hyacinths and weeds. The boundary, marked by the archway, would be bolstered to block canal water from filtering into the section envisaged for setting up displays. “It’s a good project, but a decision is yet to be made at the government level. Once the Tourism Department gives consent, we can proceed,” said District Collector and Chairman of the DTPC K.N. Satheesh. As part of the joint venture, the DTPC would undertake much of the canal cleaning activities and the KSBB would clean the interiors of the boathouse. Since it was already refurbished, no major construction would be needed inside, said Dr. Oommen.

Work would be carried out in phases over a year. An advisory panel would include experts from the National Museum of Natural History.

Dust swirls around the building and the stench of garbage mounds on either side of the clogged waterway present a picture of neglect.

The earlier renovation did not tamper with the original appearance of the ‘boattupura.’ The new proposal too will not introduce changes to the structure.