KERALA

Oyster theme park to woo tourists

ALLURING: The theme village being developed at Padanna in Kasaragod.  

Mohamed Nazeer

Local people to benefit from the project Local people to benefit from the project

PADANNA: Scores of workers including women are seen immersing themselves in the Kavvayi backwaters that touches four panchayats in the Kasaragod district as they are collecting wild clam and oyster as also green mussels being cultured on rafts erected along the coastline.

The entire coastline that covers areas in Padanna, Valiyapramba, Cheruvathur and Thrikkarippur panchayats in Kasaragod is now in the limelight as a theme village is coming up at Thekkekad here, about 10 km from Payyannur in Kannur.

It explores the tourism potential of the region comprising palm-fringed islands and coastal stretches caressed by brackish waters.

The theme village is promoted by a mussel farmer who has organised 150 self-help groups of women under an apex society Green Mussel Farmers Society Padanna.

Mussel farming

The theme village `Oyster Opera at Padanna' is promoted as a tourist resort where mussel farming on coir and traditional collection of oyster and clam will be the theme.

Cut off from the din of urban areas, this place comprising coconut lagoons, mangroves and places with medicinal plants is expected to be an ideal destination for tourists. The theme village will be formally opened in April.

"Nearly 3,500 men and women are engaged in green mussel farming here for the last 10 years and they form a majority of workers in the four villages," says G.S. Gul Mohammad, mussel farmer who popularised green mussel farming in the area and is now involved in exploring the tourism potential of the place by setting up the theme park.

In 1996, when he started mussel farming, the production was just two metric tonnes, which has now risen to 7,000 tonnes, he explains.

The theme park will also benefit the local people mostly engaged in mussel farming, he adds. The theme village is unique with traditional huts and kitchen built with locally available materials that do not clash with the natural ambience of the area.

Mr. Mohammad says that a select group of villagers engaged in mussel farming have already been trained to receive tourists and be their guidesThe cuisine will offer a wide range of mouth-watering ethnic preparations ranging from spicy seafood to tender coconut dessert, he adds. An added advantage of the area is its access to places where Theyyam is performed during the local Kaliyattom season.

The theme village will have an open-air stage for the performance of local folk arts, Mr. Mohammad says.