Nearly three months after suspending entry of tourists to Idukki dam, one of the major tourist attractions in Idukki, the Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association (KHRA) is planning to stage protests demanding that tourists be allowed to enter the dam.
The tourist entry to Idukki dam has been suspended since September 5 after a major security breach was identified.
“The Idukki dam is the only tourist attraction in this area and after the suspension of tourist entry to the dam, the number of tourists to the region has seen a major decline,” said Dominic V.A., KHRA Cheruthoni unit executive member. He added that there are nearly 400 small homestays and hotels in the Cheruthoni region.
“In the last Deepavali season, only a few tourists visited the area. The Christmas and New Year vacation is a peak time for tourist arrival in Idukki dam. Our demand is that the officials should take steps to resume tourists’ entry before the Christmas season,” said Mr. Dominic.
According to officials, after the security breach, a meeting was called by the Idukki Collector Sheeba George on September 16, who directed the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) dam safety wing, hydel tourism wing, and the police to make certain security arrangements in the dam before allowing tourist entry.
Kerala Hydel Tourism Centre (KHTC) Director Narendra Nath Veluri said the KHTC had already made arrangements for tourists.
“The decision on resuming tourists’ entry rests on the authorities,” said Mr. Veluri.
“The September 16 meeting had decided to shift the ticket counter to Vellappara, install new metal detectors at the entry point of the Idukki dam, and buy buggy cars for tourists. The hydel tourism wing has already completed such arrangements,” said an official.
A top KSEB dam safety wing official said that a letter had already been submitted to the KSEB regarding arrangements to be made before resuming tourist entry to the dam. “A decision is awaited. The KSEB has also sanctioned a tender for fixing a ₹2 crore worth protection wall near the dam,” said the official.
The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary has arranged a boating facility inside the dam. According to officials, the tourists mainly enjoy the boating.
“The boating facility has given the tourists a chance to ride through the reservoir,” said a Forest department official. “Since the suspension of the tourist entry to the dam, the number of tourists to the boating facility has also come down,” added the official.
A major security breach had occurred in the Idukki dam on July 22, which came to light on September 4 after the KSEB dam safety wing officials discovered the presence of locks on the high mast lights of the dam.