The 10-day-long Kodai Vizha (summer festival) began at the famous Bryant Park in Kodaikanal on Thursday. The festival would go on till June 8.
Inaugurating the festival, Forests Minister Dindigul C. Srinivasan said the State government would build a yatri nivas at the hill station at an estimated cost of ₹6.5 crore. Administrative sanction had been accorded to the proposal. The building would come up at KRR Kalai Arangam complex, which had become defunct.
Every year, the number of tourists visiting Kodaikanal was increasing. The government, working in close coordination with Tourism, Revenue, Agriculture, Horticulture, Forest and other departments had turned the hill station into the most preferred destination, especially during the summer season.
Data available with the government indicated that a total of 65 lakh tourists visited Kodaikanal in 2016, 68 lakh in 2017 and 75 lakh in 2018. Every year, the number of visitors was increasing. Keeping this in mind, the administration was providing infrastructure and basic facilities perennially, Mr. Srinivasan said.
The number of vehicles plying to the hill station was increasing every year. There was traffic congestion at tourist spots and in and around Kodai lake. Hence, it had been proposed to construct multi-level car parking at select locations to facilitate decongestion.
As part of the beautification programme, the Forest department distributed one lakh free saplings of a variety of herbal and other species of plants, which were being planted.
The Kodaikanal Municipality had taken a number of steps to keep the hill station free from environmental hazards. Similarly, a permanent solution was being worked out for distribution of drinking water without any interruption. Towards this goal, ₹46.36 crore estimated works were underway at Kudaganaar drinking water programme.
Already, steps were being taken to supply RO water to residents in 24 wards of the municipality with private participation, he said.
Agriculture Minister R. Duraikannu, Tourism Minister Vellamandi N. Natarajan spoke on the occasion.
Collector T G Vinay presided.
Horticulture Director N. Subbaian, Superintendent of Police R Saktivel, District Forest Officer N.S. Thejaswi, DRO P. Velu, Nilakottai AIADMK MLA Thenmozhi, Tourism Officer Umadevi and other officials from various departments participated.
At Bryant Park, visitors began to arrive from morning even as the staff were giving final touches to the decoration.
The flower arrangements, which included a variety of roses and vegetable carvings, were the cynosure of all eyes. People, particularly, youngsters, took selfie in groups, while newly wedded couples were also seen taking photographs. The flower show ends on Sunday.