Kovalam, which has got the trappings of a popular beach destination with three crescent-shaped beaches, golden sands, and rocky promontories, will get a facelift soon.
The work, being taken up by Kerala Tourism, is being launched on the initiative of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Tourism Minister A.P. Anil Kumar to help Kovalam regain its old glory and attract more tourists. It was this beach destination that fetched a place for the State on the world tourism map decades ago.
The State government is giving top priority for the facelift of Kovalam, and funds are not a problem for implementing the schemes chalked out, Mr. Anil Kumar told The Hindu . The drinking-water shortage in the destination will be addressed along with the works, he added.
The facelift programme is expected to kick off by November-end. The Edakkal rocks, sandwiched between the Eve's and the Lighthouse beaches, will be developed as a sunset viewpoint. The promontories will be beautified, as many climb up the rocks to view the sunset and get a panoramic view of the landmark Lighthouse and the beach resort.
Eco-fencing will be installed to ensure the security of the tourists, as some stretches are slippery, a tourism official said. Granite chairs will be among the eco-furniture to be installed. The watchtower, an eyesore, atop the Edakkal rocks for lifeguards will be removed.
As part of the blueprint, the National Highway stretch from Chakka to Kovalam, which acts as a gateway to the destination, will be cleaned and spruced up. Voluntary organisations, residents' associations, and others will be roped in to remove the garbage that has piled up on the 12-km stretch and to check further dumping of waste.
The road from Vellar to the Samudra beach and three roads to the Eve's and the Lighthouse beaches will be widened wherever land is available. The stretches will be resurfaced to ensure a hassle-free movement of vehicles. The gradient of the narrow road that leads to the parking lot on the Eve's beach will be corrected and the stretch will be resurfaced, as traffic snarls and accidents are frequent here.
A facilitation centre will come up on the parking lot on the Eve's beach. Apart from a cloakroom and toilets, showers will be installed for those returning from a swim. The facilitation centre will come in handy for walk-in tourists and those who come to the beach to get a tan, the official said. The pipes that eject wastewater to the Eve's and the Lighthouse beaches will be capped. The one that discards freshwater will be closed and the water will be channelled to the sea by laying underwater pipes, without marring the beauty of the beach.
As part of finding a permanent solution to garbage disposal, a five-tonne-capacity biogas plant will be set up on 50 cents (about half an acre) of land owned by Kerala Tourism at Keezhekuzhiyanvila, near Mayakunnu, behind the Lighthouse Beach. A children's park and an orchid garden have been planned along with this.
The destination, which attracted 1,08,639 tourists last year, will soon be declared a plastic-free zone. Hotels, restaurants, shops and other business establishments, and houses in the tourism zone will be covered and garbage will be removed daily as part of the mission to make Kovalam waste-free. The local unit of the Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association and the Kovalam Protection Council will have to play a major role in the challenging task to keep the destination clean. The multipurpose artificial reef, installed between the Lighthouse and the Edakkal rocks, off the Lighthouse beach, has received praise from stakeholders for protecting the eroding coast during the past two monsoons. Unauthorised constructions have been the bane of the beach resort and already Kovalam has been converted into a concrete jungle. As part of the facelift, coconut saplings will be planted on space available on the side of the walkway that extends to the Lighthouse to increase the green cover.
S. Anil Radhakrishnan
Kerala Tourism is set to take up a facelift programme.