Kerala

Agricultural theme park struggles to stay afloat

The COVID-19 induced lockdowns may have served the much-needed relief for the flora and fauna in most protected areas. But for this patch of manmade forest, it just worked the other way around.

Like virtually everything in 2020, the raging pandemic has cast a show over the very existence of Mango Meadows, country's first agricultural theme park. Home to about 4 800 species of plants including 700 trees, 900 flowering plants, the park is now struggling hard to stay afloat in the face of a looming debt disaster.

With its outstanding debts accumulating to a whopping ₹25 crore, it now faces the prospects of attachment under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act.

Confirming the situation, N.K. Kurien, who owns the park, said the time for repaying the whole amount in a single tranche will run out by August 25.

“While the mega floods of 2018 and the Nipah scare have all driven visitors away from the park in the past ever since its opening in 2018, nothing has ever hit all at once before. The pandemic was a shock no one saw coming and it has laid bare the inherent weaknesses of such a project,” he said.

While the park remains closed, the owner incurs a monthly expense of around ₹6.5 lakh to maintain its bounty of biodiversity. “With no money coming in, only 65 of the total 300 employees are now staying back,” added Mr.Kurien

In view of the situation, he has now approached the State government with a request to assign any of its financial agencies such as the Kerala Financial Corporation (KFC), Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) or Kerala Bank to take over the loan so as to pay the amount in different instalments.

Meanwhile, a crowdfunding initiative has taken off to save the park, which acts as a repository of rare species and has found place in the URF World Records and the Limca Book of Records for developing the maximum number of agriculture and horticulture species in a minimum area of 30 acres.

The campaign , organised by a committee including Kaduthuruthy legislator Mons Joseph and Mahatma Gandhi University Vice Chancellor Sabu Thomas, seeks contributions of ₹10,000 in return for a premium membership in the Mango Meadows family . Schemes for those making contributions in amounts less than ₹10,000 too have been formulated.


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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 3:01:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/agricultural-theme-park-struggles-to-stay-afloat/article35650502.ece

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