An agreement to allow a private firm to manage Alappuzha’s canals from October was announced on Friday after a meeting of the Canal Management Society.

Come October, Alappuzha’s canals, which earned the coastal town the sobriquet of ‘Venice of the East,’ will be managed by a private firm, instead of the existing Canal Management Society (CMS).

Though a decision to this effect was taken in June, the signing of an agreement was announced here on Friday by Alappuzha District Collector Mini Antony after an executive committee meeting of the CMS. The private firm, the Kochi-based Perfect Agri-Management Corporation (PAMC), will manage the canals for six years, during which the PAMC can undertake necessary renovation works apart from steps to popularise the canal banks among tourists.

The CMS will continue to be in charge of the canals though, with 25 per cent of the earnings going to the Society’s coffers. The PAMC will not have to pay for the first year. But in the second year, Rs.2.5 lakh will have to be paid to the Society. The amount is to increase by 15 per cent every subsequent year.

The Tourism Department will take up beautification works, including pruning and painting, worth Rs.6 lakh before handing over the responsibility to the PAMC.

The PAMC will then renovate the surroundings, set up advertisement boards, conduct exhibitions and operate boating services and other facilities that are bound to attract tourists.

Among the proposed attractions is a ‘Green Memories’ offer, as per which tourists can plant saplings on the canal banks for a designated fee. Photographs of the stage-by-stage growth of the sapling will be sent to the tourist. Flower shows named ‘Take Home Alleppey,’ souvenirs, post-cards and photographs are also among the proposals to make the venture a success.

The PAMC will also explore the possibilities of floating fountains in order to remove the otherwise stagnant water in the canal. The district administration and the municipality are planning to clamp down on the discharge of garbage and other effluents into the canals by imposing heavy fines on violators of environment laws, Ms. Antony added.

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