The green environs of Aruvikkara, known mainly for its reservoir that quenches the capital city’s thirst, is on the threshold of a major facelift, Finance Minister K.M. Mani has said.

Speaking after laying the foundation stone for a ‘bali mandapam,’ ‘balikadavu,’ and a check dam to be constructed by the Kerala Water Authority and the Irrigation Department near the Aruvikkara dam here on Tuesday, Mr. Mani said the area held immense potential as a tourist spot. It was already gaining in popularity as a pilgrim centre with several hundreds flocking the area to offer ‘bali.’ But at the same time, the dam and its environs were the ideal spot for tourists and had to be developed keeping that in mind, he said.

Mr. Mani said the government had accorded administrative sanction for a non-banking sub-treasury at Vellanad in the same constituency.

The ‘balikadavu,’ to be of 100 metres in length and 20 metres in width, would be constructed about 300 metres from the Aruvikkara temple alongside the Karamana river at a cost of Rs.1.6 crore. The Rs.1 crore check dam would come up another 100 metres away from the ghat, to store water up to a height of 1.5 metres. The Rs.1 crore-first phase of the ‘bali mandapam’ would come up with a 1,200 square-feet granite floor with stairs and facilities for the aged and physically challenged as well to offer ‘bali,’ and separate arrangements for women.

The e-tender process has already been set in motion, and the work is expected to begin in July and completed in nine months.

The entire project was estimated at Rs.7.1 crore.

Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph presided. Mr. Karthikeyan welcomed the gathering. A. Sampath, MP, Travancore Devaswom Board president M.P. Govindan Nair, Chief Engineer (Irrigation) P. Lathika, and Chief Engineer (KWA, South) P. Sreekumaran Nair were present.