Roar of oars likely to be back at Kerala's Punnamada in November
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Will the vanchipattu (boat song) echo in the backwaters this year or the oarsmen splash the oars in unison at Punnamada at least this year? It may a bit early to give a clear answer, but the tourism department has started exploring the possibility of restarting the Nehru Trophy Boat Race in November adhering to Covid protocol. The race used to be held on the second Saturday of August every year.
Alappuzha MLA P P Chitharanjan said, "We are exploring the possibility of holding the event in November by allowing only restricted entry to tourists. Since the houseboat season or foreign tourist arrival begins in Alappuzha in November-December, holding the event will be a big game-changer for the pandemic-hit tourism sector in the 'Venice of the East. Only 5,000 passes have to be issued for tourists and the entry of local residents will be restricted".
"By telecasting the event through various digital media platforms, others will get a chance to watch the event live. The primary discussion was based on this proposal and all stakeholders including the houseboat, homestay, and other tourism-allied sectors are hopeful of holding the event," he said.
Additional chief secretary (tourism) V Venu told TNIE, "It's only a proposal. The high-power committee chaired by the chief minister will take a final call. Though the tourism department organised the Champions Boat League modelled on the lines of the Indian Premier League, electrifying the backwaters of the state, two years ago, this proposal is only for holding the Nehru Trophy Boat Race to set an environment in favour of the hospitality sector," he said.
Started in 1952, Nehru Trophy Boat Race attracts viewers from far-off corners of the world. And the introduction of the Champions Boat League had transformed the traditional snake boat races into a global sporting event with around 1.8 crore people watching the first edition on eight television channels across the globe and 22 lakh people altogether watched the races on site.