ALAPPUZHA: The 94-km coastline and the beaches in Alappuzha district are apparently in an abandoned state. Neither the government nor the Tourism Department is paying attention to its maintenance or taking steps to tap the vast tourism potential here.
After the tsunami, the Tourism Department had created a package to revive the facilities damaged by the seawater incursion. But some of the constructions made for the tourists have now become a den of anti-socials.
Among the beaches, Alappuzha beach is the one place where tourists pay regular visits. Other beaches such as Anthakranazhi, Mararikulam, Chethi, Punnapra and Thrikunnapuzha have become unapproachable, mainly due to lack of facilities, left either unrepaired or not built.
The Tourism Department had reportedly spent more than `1 crore from the Tsunami package to develop Anthakrainazhi beach into a tourist spot.
Rest rooms, toilets, elevated bridge and other facilities were built. But the invasion of anti-socials has left all of them counterproductive. Their presence during night time is excessive and has rendered the beach inapproachable.
According to the people living nearby, strange people, including some youths, gather there and consume liquor. They also use these facilities as a cover for all sorts of immoral activities including drug injection.
In spite of the beach being considered as one of the busy destinations in the district, being just 12 km from Cherthala, the government seems to be totally unaware of what has been happening there. The government is also seen as going back from its promises of beautification made a couple of years back.
Complaints against the anti-social activities as well as the official apathy have been brought to the notice of various authorities, but every time it seemed to fall on deaf ears, said Gopinath, representing residents of Anthakaranazhi.
The story of Mararikkulam beach, yet another prominent spot in Alappuzha, is no different from Anthakaranazhi. The government has failed to properly tap the tourism potential here too, with or without the knowledge, said Gopinath.
Absence of enough police force has been cited as a reason for the moral deterioration on beaches. Lack of parking spaces, lights and toilets has, however, added to the depravities.
Four American tourists have in last June fallen prey to the sinking security system here. They were attacked as well as their car was damaged. Overseas tourists coming to the beaches are reportedly taking baths in the sea. They complained that there had been no life guards, which are vital for moving into the sea.
Washing sheds to clean their body have also not been provided, they said. Relating to the present state of affairs, District Tourism Promotion Council secretary C Pradeep said that the state government has allotted `15 lakh for the maintenance of the beach and the constructions at Anthakaranazhi. The work will be undertaken by the PWD soon, he said.
The government has also allotted `95 lakh for upgrading other beaches in the district for which the work will begin in next January, said Pradeep.
However, the demand for beautification and facility improvement at beaches including Chethi, Punnapara, Thottapally and Thrikunnapuzha have been on the rise for long.