Kerala

Cruising in Thekkady may be suspended

Tree stumps have surfaced over the Mullaperiyar reservoir at Thekkady, posing a threat to the conduct of boat services.— Photo: Giji K. Raman

Tree stumps have surfaced over the Mullaperiyar reservoir at Thekkady, posing a threat to the conduct of boat services.— Photo: Giji K. Raman  

A major tourist draw, the boat services at Thekkady may be suspended shortly out of safety concerns.

For perhaps the first time, the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam in October has dropped to the lowest level, posing a direct safety threat to boat services in the lake. With the tree stumps surfacing over the shallow waters, boat services by the Forest Department and the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) were shifted to nearly half a kilometre away from the boat landing station and the number of passengers was also reduced, indicating the likely suspension of boat services within a day or two.

The tree stumps have always been a concern in the lake. As the water level started dropping, the routes through which the boats plied were also changed. Now things have reached a situation in which safe boating in the lake has become difficult.

Periyar Tiger Resrve (PTR) Deputy Director Kishan Kumar has issued a direction to the KTDC to immediately stop services using boats that have a large capacity. Mr. Kumar told The Hindu on Thursday that there was every possibility of boats getting hit by the sharp edged tree stumps and tumbling into the muddy water. He said that boats could ply again once the water situation improved.

Reacting to opposition from tourism stakeholders, he said there was no move to stop other tourism programmes at Thekkady. They are as important as the boating services, he said. The first concern was safety of the tourists.

Usually, the water level in the dam reaches the lowest level by the end of July and the lowest water level during that period last year was above 110.5 ft. But the water level on Thursday was 109.2 ft with Tamil Nadu releasing a minimum amount of water to meet its drinking water purposes in the five districts. The dead storage level of the dam is 108 ft. Over the past three years, the water level had remained over 110 ft in the dam even during peak drought seasons.

Meanwhile, Youth Congress workers on Thursday organised a march to the PTR Deputy Director's office alleging move to close down the boat services in the lake. They said it would affect hundreds employed in the tourism sector here.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2020 3:49:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/Cruising-in-Thekkady-may-be-suspended/article16077511.ece

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