A tourism project could serve as lifebuoy for the 20-acre island

Kottathuruthy, a quaint 20-acre island in the estuary of the Moorad river near Vadakara, is in threat of vanishing. But, tourism may bring in salvation.

The island, which has 54 families residing on it, is hardly 200 metres away from the Sargalaya Art and Craft Village at Iringal, and could be developed as its value-addition destination, say observers.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the craft village P.P. Bhaskaran has already submitted a proposal to the tourism director to develop Kottathuruthy as a ‘Cultural Island’ with participation of the residents, majority of whom are fish folks and coir workers. He says the first thing to be done to save the island is to shore up its boundary with concrete wall. “Otherwise, the island will disappear little by little. Its people will have nowhere to go,” says Mr. Bhaskaran.

Though the development committee for Kottathuruthy had earlier made an attempt with the help of K. Dasan, MLA, to make the government’s river management fund available for a Rs.2.5-crore project to build a concrete boundary around the island, it didn’t take off. The government was not in favour of any project above Rs.40 lakh.

The ‘Cultural Island’ project envisages a concrete boundary wall, a boat jetty, basic amenities including toilets and restrooms for tourists, pathways connecting each cottage of the island, and marketing outlets for art, craft, and food produced in the island. Till eight years ago, when the Kottathuruthy bridge was constructed, inhabitants of the island were depending completely on country boat services to get to Vadakara, the nearest island.

A boat service between the Craft Village and Kottathuruthy is another feature of the proposed project, a proposal which will benefit tourists. “Developing the island as a manufacturing hub for the craft village is the main thrust of the new proposal,” says Mr. Bhaskaran, who had already initiated several awareness programmes about the project among the residents. He has also launched craft training sessions for select people from the island. “After the awareness sessions, residents are now keen on the materialisation of the project,” says Madhu Kottathuruthy, a resident.

Mr. Madhu, who is also the president of the farmers’ club at the island, says many residents have quit coir works because of the low income. The island, with coconut trees aplenty and a serene ambience, is ideal to be made the production hub of the craft village, he says.

The project includes cultural programmes, including Kalaripayatu and Theyyam, besides several other activities for the visitors. Local food such as tender coconuts and seafood will also be part of the attractions.

Tour on foot

Mr. Bhaskaran says visitors will be taken on a walking tour along the island to see ornamental fish, crab and mussel farming undertaken by the residents. “We have identified a list of around 30 activities with marketing and tourism potential,” he says.

Mr. Bhaskaran says the Tourism Joint Director has studied the proposal and written a favourable report to the department head. Mr. Dasan is also all praise for the project. “If the department sanctions the Rs.8-crore project, it will raise the tourism prospects of the region,” he says.

The project will also save the little island from the clutches of sand-miners and help keep at bay the threat of erosion, post-monsoon.

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