This year’s Champakulam Moolam Boat Race, which heralds the race season, will be held on the Pampa at Champakulam, near here, from 2.30 p.m. on July 3.

Finance Minister K.M. Mani will inaugurate the race. Tourism Minister A.P. Anil Kumar will preside. Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash will inaugurate a cultural meeting.

In all, 29 boats, including nine snake boats, six A grade Veppu boats, three A Grade Odi boats, two B Grade Veppu boats, six B Grade Odi boats,and three Churulan boats, will participate in the race, A. Gopakumar, chairman of the Race and RDO, Alappuzha, and T.R. Azad, general convener and Tahsildar, Kuttanad, told reporters here on Friday. The budget estimate for the boat race is Rs.25 lakh, of which Rs.12 lakh will be for disbursal of bonus and cash prizes. The participants in the snake boat final will get Rs. 70,000 each as bonus, while those in the losers’ final and second losers’ final will get Rs. 60,000 and Rs. 50,000 respectively.

The participants in the final and losers’ final in Odi and Veppu A grade boat races will get a bonus of Rs.35,000 and Rs.30,000 each respectively. Those competing in the final and losers’ final of other types of boats will get Rs.20,000 each as bonus. The winners of each race will get additional cash prizes also. Mr. Gopakumar said last year the Tourism Department had allocated Rs.50,000 as grant. This amount has been increased to Rs.1 lakh. The Sports Council has also hiked its grant from Rs.10,000 last year to Rs.15,00 this year.

Last year, the total grant came to Rs 1.1 lakh. PACL India, real estate development firm, is the sponsor of the boat race. Kairali People’s Channel will telecast the race live, while AIR will also broadcast it live.

He said the Moolam Boat Race had a history of about 450 years and was noted for its communal amity with the active participation of the Mappilassery Tharavadu, an ancient Christian Tharavadu. Also, the winner of the snake boat race will be presented the `Rajapramukhan’ trophy in silver with gold covering gifted by the late Maharaja of erstwhile Travancore, Sree Chitira Thirunal Maharaja.

The rituals are still performed at the Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Temple, Nedumudi Madathil Temple, Mappilassery Tharavadu and Kaloorkkadu Forane Church upholding the secular nature of this boat race.