Roshy Augustine, MLA, has said that the Onam season is also a tourist season in Idukki and it is with the aim of tapping that potential that various programmes are being organised during the period.

Hoisting the festival flag in connection with the inauguration of the district-level tourism programme at Cheruthoni on Tuesday, Mr Augustine said that the Idukki and Cheruthoni dams will be open to the public for a month in connection with Onam as more visitors are coming to the district headquarters during the period. “Earlier, the dams were open during the festival seasons for 10 days. However, in this Onam season, it is for 30 days with boating facilities available to the visitors,” he said.

Festive mood

Compared to the last Onam season, both the government and non-governmental organisations arranged various programmes in the district and there is a festival mood everywhere, he said. Though the water-level in the Idukki dam at its lowest level, adversely affecting the power sector, it will provide an opportunity for one to see the bottom-level structure of the dam and a considerable turnout of visitors is being experienced since it was opened to the public on August 24.

He said that domestic tourists constituted a major chunk during the lean season and Cheruthoni is being developed a stopover for them to savour the green beauty of the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary, the Hill View Park and the reservoir areas. The government is keen on making available basic infrastructure facilities for tourists and it was with this aim that the pavilion and an open theatre were being set up in front of the arch dam.

“It is being developed without damaging the environment and the focus is to arrange basic facilities for the visitors and a garden will also be developed in the area,” he said. Once the basic infrastructure is in place, foreign tourists too could be attracted to the district headquarters, he said.

The message of Onam is one of equality and it is being celebrated without religious barriers, he said.

Boat cruise

The tourists reaching Munnar and Thekkady will also get the opportunity to have a boat cruise in the reservoir during the season. “The district too joins the State-wide celebrations with the spirit of unity and equality for all,” he said.

The week-long district-level tourism programme is being conducted by the district administration jointly with the District Tourism Promotion Council and other departments. The official Onam programmes will come to a close on September 2.