Renovation of the public aquarium has been dragging on for more than a year.
The city will have to wait for at least a few more months to receive visitors to its only public aquarium on the beach as the renovation work there is being delayed.
The aquarium, run by the District Tourism Promotion Council, once used to attract a large number of tourists to its striking collection of fresh-water fishes at a 10-cent facility leased out by the Corporation. Two years ago, the DTPC closed the facility for renovation, and gave the works contract to the Small Industries Development Corporation (SIDCO) in April 2012.
SIDCO sublet the contract for civil and electrical work that included restoration of the crumbling structure, erecting of a compound wall, flooring and painting to a private contractor. Only the civil work is nearing completion. The electrical work is yet to begin.
As per the agreement, SIDCO was expected to hand over the project to the DTPC after finishing the work in a year. “We have asked SIDCO to compulsorily hand over the project to DTPC by August 31even if the work is not completed,” said Jessy Helen, Secretary (in charge) of the DTPC.
According to her, the council is thinking of substituting fresh-water fishes in the aquarium’s tanks with marine fishes. A private firm has already conducted preliminary discussions with District Collector C.A. Latha on the possibilities of setting up a marine aquarium after redoing the interiors. “We have already discussed the project with the Collector, who is also the DTPC chairperson,” said G. Sreejith, managing director of the Kochi-based aqua marine firm. “The details of the project can only be divulged only after further discussions,” he said.
According to him, keeping fresh-water fishes at the aquarium has several disadvantages especially when it is meant for a public purpose. “Maintenance of freshwater fishes is relatively hard in large tanks. Besides its less interesting for the viewers as they are common in myriad domestic aquariums kept at people’s residences,” he said.
Sources from the DTPC said that the District Collector, who had earlier served as the Director of Fisheries, was of the opinion that marine fishes would be more suitable for the public aquarium as they could evoke more enthusiasm from the people for their rarity. “If the project is handed over to us we expect to finish the work and open it for the public within 50 days,” said Mr. Sreejith.