The prince and his entourage enjoyed the heavy downpower from deep inside the forests and the beauty of the bountiful waterfalls in Vazhachal.
Later he met the tribals who live in the periphery of the tropical forests and enquired about their food habits and mode of living.
The Prince spent around 40 minutes in the elephant corridor and was curious to know about the unique flora and fauna of the region. He also spared time to interact with the forest range officials and other senior officials of Wildlife Trust of India and other forest conservation organizations.
The authorities also introduced snake charmer Vava Suresh to the prince, who has the rare distinction of capturing over 250000 snakes till date including king cobra with bare hands and releasing them to the wild. Elephant lover Thadikannan, traditional botanist Mari and wildlife expert S Guruvayurappan also met prince Charles.
The villagers of teh otherwise sleepy villages near vazhachal accorded a rousing reception to the visiting Prince in a traditional style when his convoy passed through the area.
Image courtesy : Mail Online
Malayalee poets have always fantasised rivers, forests and lagoons as nature’s dowry in some of their best literary creations. However it seems that these have become the private gifts of the land mafia and the resort owners in Kerala going by the way they usurp priceless and highly fragile land by flouting the many rules and regulations in place.
Banyan Tree , a Seven-star deluxe villa resort, built on an islet in Vembanad backwaters, a Ramsar site, (a wetland of international importance and protected by the Ramsar Convention)with full cooperation of state agencies, has been served a demolition notice. Promoted by the Muthoot group and Kuwait-based Kapico group, it is alleged that this resort was built by filling up the surrounding backwaters to reclaim land
Banyan Tree is located on the private island of Nediyathuruthu, surrounded by the unspoilt beauty of the backwaters in Kerala’s Alleppey district. It is ironical that the luxurious all-pool villa, Banyan Tree is the first Indian outpost of the award-winning resort chain group, which owns premium resorts and hotels in Asia-Pacific.
The Kerala High Court, July 25 has come down heavily by ordering the demolition of all 59 villas and other constructions on the tiny island in the backwaters within three months. A division bench of the high court, comprising justices K M Joseph and K Harilal cited violation of various laws and norms like the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ), EIA Notification-2006, Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act-2008 and Wetland conservation and Management Rules-2010.
Nediyathuruthu, one of the the seven tiny islets in the Vembabad backwaters in Alappuzha was originally made of paddy fields and water-logged areas. The land , which was acquired by a chartered accountant from various owners was later purchased by Mini Muthoot group, a non-banking financial corporation in Kerala and the Kuwait-based Kapico Group, which has operations in over 11 countries. The paddy fields were filled up along with the surrounding backwaters of around 2.04 acres and a private jetty was constructed without obtaining permission from the irrigation department.
According to the coastal zone regulations, constructions within 50 metre from the shoreline are strictly prohibited. The maximum height of the structures should not exceed nine metre and it is mandatory to leave 20 metre distance between two buildings. Banyan tree resort has found to have violated all these rules. This luxury hotel project, which was built at around 250 crore also failed to obtain the mandatory clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forest for all investments above Rs 5 crore.
Some of the other resorts that are facing action include Vaamika island and green lagoon. Only tough action will deter the land sharks and private groups from eating into the prime land of Kerala. The area of Vembanad lake has been reduced to a paltry 12,000 hectares from 42,000 hectares in the past few decades, and if adequate monitoring system in not in place , the day is not far away when the largest fresh water lake in Asia would dry up like Bharatapuzha, which has now been reduced to a thin streak of water from being a bountiful river in the past!
The monsoon dates that coincide with the school reopening in Kerala has always been a delightful experience for every Malayalee. As the much expected South West monsoons lashed the Kerala Coast bang on target on June 1st, it brought cheer to not just the fun loving kids but also to the general public and the administration as well. Monsoon is so intricately linked with the lifestyle and culture of Kerala that normal life will be badly hit if the rains fail to show up on time.
The monsoon has a crucial role in in the economy of the power starved state of Kerala as it replenishes the waterways and reservoirs of the State, which depends on Hydro electricity for power generation even today. From tourism to Ayurveda and monsoon wellness treatments, Kerala offers a host of activities that are tagged to monsoon.
The South West monsoon, which is expected to bring normal rains this year has brought down the soaring temperature of Kerala. Keralites who have been reeling under load shedding can be a relieved lot as the power curbs will be lifted in a few days when the monsoons gather strength.
As industrialization and deforestation has affected the weather patterns all around the world, we can only hope and pray that this God given gift of the monsoons, continue to bring prosperity and happiness to Kerala. As responsible citizens we should all take an oath to protect our water bodies, forests and wet lands to make sure that we hand over the magic and bounty of monsoons to the future generations.
Elephants have always been poster boys for Kerala tourism. In a novel attempt to lure foreign tourists and elephant lovers, the Kerala forest department officials have come up with a hard to resist package.
Two persons can spend a day with an elephant at the Konni Eco-Tourism Centre for INR 2,000. Those who avail the package will get an irresistible deal including a rare chance to feed or bathe the elephant apart from enjoying a safari.
The tourists can visit the elephant camp and can even try their hands in giving these gentle giants a thorough scrub and wash at the bathing ghat in the Achenkovil River. The tourists can also take home a few photographs to keep these priceless moments fresh all their life time. There are currently five elephants at the Konni elephant camp where the tourists can spend around six hours with the elephant. The revenue will be utilized for the maintenance of the camp.
Spread over 7 acres, the Konni Eco-Tourism Centre has many facilities including audio-visual library, elephant museum, restaurant and a children’s park.The third phase of the development of the Konni Eco-Tourism Project at a project cost of over 45 lakh is in the pipeline. The projects in this phase include landscaping work in the elephant camp and improvement of the elephant museum.
So in case you are planning a special gift for someone special think beyond the run of the mill gift ideas and plan a day out with the jumbos. It will surely be something priceless not just for the recipient but also for those who gift it!
Kerala is bestowed with a long sea coast that virtually extends all along the State and a meandering network of backwaters, canals and rivers, which makes it a perfect destination for water tourism and leisure activities.
Kerala has asked The National Institute of Water Sports (NIWS) in Goa to chart out a detailed project report. Once the policy clearances are obtained , water sports and other leisure activities will be taken up in a phased manner. Kerala holds an enviable position for a range of water sporting options like windsurfing, kayaking and canoeing. The ethnic water activities of Kerala including house boat cruise and snake boat racing could also be included in the activity list to ensure a diverse fare. The main objective of this plan would be to promote new water sporting destinations apart from the popular spots like in Kerala like Punnamada, Ashtamudi, Kumarakom and Bakel.
Apart from enhancing the tourism potential of the State, weather sporting events would also ensure the protection of water bodies in the State, which are facing a high risk from the spiraling commercial and developmental activities in the State, which has taken a heavy toll over its natural resources.
With the power black outs throwing the lives of the hapless citizens of Kerala haywire, the government and the planning gurus have come up with a few innovative measures. Now the focus has clearly shifted to the promotion of non conventional energy sources in Kerala, which depends exclusively on the monsoons for power generation.
As the power crisis is looming high, Kerala has taken the much appreciated initiatives to exploit the potential of solar energy. Within a time frame of four years the government plans to set up two lakh roof top solar panels in house holds. Thirty percent subsidy will be provided by the centre to the consumers while a subsidy of 39000 will be borne by the state government. KSEB has also come up with many innovative ideas like coining catchy slogans on the significance of saving power by going for a ‘ringback advertising’ to send its message across to the 1.03 crore KSEB consumers every time they dial their neighbourhood KSEB section office.
The ringback tone initiative is one of the measures being implemented as part of the ‘Demand Side Management’ (DSM) measures of the KSEB to curb power consumption ahead of the peak summer days ahead. The government is also mooting a series of steps to reduce transmission loss including laying underground power cables.
Being responsible citizens , we too can pitch in our mite to make Kerala self sufficient in power by installing solar panels and by exercising self restraint in using power.Hopefully these innovative measures might bring relief to the millions of Keralites who are forced to adjust their sleeping patterns and social life as per the KSEB load shedding hours, in the coming days!
Kerala will be focusing on ayurveda and the biodiversity hot spot of Western Ghats in its ongoing tourism campaign. The basic aim would be to generate a world wide interest in the ancient Indian medical system. Kerala is regarded as the birth place of Ayurveda and the rich biodiversity in the Western Ghats has been the biggest advantage for this tiny state of Kerala.
Home to over 900 species of Ayurvedic herbs, the chain of mountains that comprise the Western Ghats runs through its eastern sector from hills of Wayanad in North Kerala to the southern Sahyadri peak. A treasure trove of rare medicinal herbs, the Western Ghats have always evoked interest among botanists . The ‘Agasthyakoodam’ peak near Trivandrum believed to be the abode of Sage Agasthya of Indian mythology, is home to some of the rarest medicinal herbs.
One of the eight biodiversity hot spots in the world, the Western Ghats has become a happening theme in Kerala Tourism’s campaign. This tourism season, Kerala will be banking heavily on ayurveda and has come up with many an innovative plans to provide world-class Ayurveda facilities and services for visitors factoring in the biodiversity hot spot Western Ghats.
The Tourism Department has classified ayurvedic institutions as ‘Green Leaf’ and ‘Olive Leaf’ and these ‘Kerala Tourism approved Ayurvedic Centres will ensure authentic ayurvedic rejuvenation programmes. Kerala received 94 lakh domestic visitors last year, while number of foreign tourists stood at eight lakh. A majority of tourists from Germany, the Middle East and Australia cited Ayurveda as one of the most compelling reasons for them to make a trip to Kerala.
Ayurveda of Kerala is typically wellness oriented and many people opt for it for rejuvenation and relaxation and not just for curing physical ailments and it is this wellness element in ayurveda that Kerala will be aiming to exploit in drawing more tourists to this beautiful southern State of India.
Facebook has changed the way we live and think and this buzzing social medium has been used effectively for creating awareness on many issues plaguing the society. Now the Communication and Capacity Development Unit (CCDU) of the Department of Water Resources in Kerala has decided to make use of Facebook in making Kerala a water-friendly society.
A Facebook page ‘Hai Jalam’ has been opened to the public, which will highlight the importance of water conservation. A water droplet on a leaf with the message ‘We should know the significance of water’ forms the cover picture of the profile of this page. Apart from providing water saving tips to the public, it will also share information on rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge models. There is also a blog section in the page. This page is expected to enhance people’s initiatives in water conservation efforts and hopes to create a society that respects water to make sure that every person has access to clean potable water in the days ahead.
Within just two days of its launch, 98 people have already become friends with ‘Hai Jalam and the CCDU team is hoping that at least one lakh people will join. The prime target of this FB page is school students, where they can discuss water conservation ideas and share tips. CCDU also has launched an ambitious scheme to set up Jalashree’ clubs in schools across the state over the next three years to make sure that the future generation is aware of the importance of the conservation of water bodies to sustain all forms of life on planet earth.
The Kerala youth who have become more beauty conscious than their predecessors in their attempt to enhance complexion shun sunlight more then ever before. This in turn has set off a series of life style related disorders caused by the deficiency of Vitamin D, which is activated only with the exposure of sunlight.
The modern life styles that require people to remain confined in offices , flats or indoor gyms have been responsible for this alarming situation. According to a latest report over 90 percent of the population in Kerala suffers from Vitamin D deficiency, which is more common in the affluent class and in someplaces in North Kerala where women cover their bodies in full length gowns.
Deficiency of a balanced diet and low exposure to sunlight coupled with overprotective clothing have all resulted in Vitamin deficiency that can lead to various disease conditions like osteomalacia and hypocalcemia, cancer, tuberculosis and heart ailments. The required level of Vitamin D in a healthy adult should be 30-60 nanogram per millilitre where as a Keralite has only 19.4 ng/ml.
So next time when you fuss over the tan caused by the sun rays beating on you, remember that you will be missing out on the beneficial aspects of the sunshine vitamin by shutting out these natural rays.
The sleepy island of Valiaparamb in Kasargod district in North Kerala would have got cut off from the mainland but for the determination and grit of a handful of women. When the boatmen of the island decided to strike work citing the reason of fuel shortage to operate the boats, the women took up the challenge by taking the oars of the boat that they launched. The 24 km long Valiaparamb island is accessible only by ferry services along the Kovvai lake, which connects two other islands.
Though the water transport authorities are operating two boats, these are insufficient to cater to the travel needs of the islanders. When this issue was taken up for discussion at the Kudumbashree, a few illustrious women stepped into the scene and decided to throw in their oars into the waters literally. Instead of depending on someone to provide boat services, three enterprising women in their sixties decided to rent a boat and launch their own service which is available from 7.30 am to 6.30 pm every day. These women take scores of men , women and children across the waters to the other shores, everyday. A team of 15 workers from the self help group of Kudumbasree is now operating the service, which has become the life line of the islanders who have to travel to the mainland to eke out a living.