Water park has remained closed for 8 years

Lack of foresight and commitment has marred the fate of the much-publicised Chanthathode water park of the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) in Thiruvalla.

The tourism project commissioned in 2005 envisaging a multi-pronged development strategy, which included extension of road transport and water transport to certain interior reaches of Upper Kuttanad through the Chanthathode canal, remains closed now for eight years.

The water park, situated near the municipal market, hardly a kilometre away from the town, on the Thiruvalla-Kayamkulam Road was a major attraction to the local people during the initial months. The park in the idyllic settings of Upper Kuttanad that offered boating facility, a cafeteria, a hall-cum-view tower, and footpath on either side of the canal was a fascination to the local people.

Families in and around Thiruvalla flocked there in the evenings, especially on holidays, gradually making it an ideal location for outings during the weekend.

But, the situation took a U-turn with many children playing in the paddle boats complaining of severe itching and other skin ailments. There were two major sewer lines carrying filth from the municipal limits that emptied out into the canal, polluting the otherwise clean canal waters.

Many children as well as their wards started complaining of contracting skin disease after coming into contact with the filthy canal waters. The water park commissioned in 2005 turned defunct a year later, literally throwing its project cost worth Rs.25 lakh into the shallow canal waters, alleges architect Rajendrababu Chettumadhom.

DTPC secretary Varghese Punnen told The Hindu that flow of filth into the canal through the two municipal drainages was the major source of pollution. He said the DTPC had moved the municipality on several occasions seeking immediate action to check pollution of the canal waters. He said the civic body authorities had promised to divert the drainages from the canal in a time-bound manner itself.

Dumping of waste from the fish market, chicken corners, slaughter houses, etc. made the situation more pathetic, posing serious health hazard to the locality, says Mr. Rajendrababu. The canal is heavily weeded and the four paddle boats have been idling on its bank. Encroachment on either bank of the canal is another problem facing the DTPC.

The project was launched with much scope for rural tourism in mind. The idea was to construct a road and a walkway with proper lighting and resting places along the canal banks, besides linking the waterway with the Alappuzha Canal to facilitate houseboat service in future, says A. Gopakumar, Thiruvalla Revenue Divisional Officer, who is also the DTPC member secretary.

George Mammen Kondoor, DTPC member, told The Hindu that the RDO would convene a meeting of various key stakeholders after May 16 to chalk out the future course of action with regard to the water park that remained close for the past eight years.

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