Kerala Lite Blogs

Panchayats in Kerala to decide fate of wild boars

While Raju’s family celebrated the licensed killing of the boar, there’s no respite for Thomas, as about 6,000 of the 9,000 households in his jurisdiction are incurring huge losses in agriculture due to wild boar attacks…reports Asian Lite News

On June 1, around 10.30 p.m., EP Raju, a licensed gunner empanelled with the Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department, shot down a wild boar that had entered his father EP Yohannan’s farm in Kodancherry village in Kerala’s Kozhikode district, this was the first recorded incident of culling after the department empowered local self-governments to cull wild boar to curb their growing menace.

“I’m thankful to Kodancherry panchayat president Alex Thomas for granting me the requisite permission. I request all farmers to take quick action, otherwise, no crop will survive in any village located on the fringes of the forest,” said 94-year-old Yohannan.

Farmers who suspect that wild boar are attacking their farm now need to seek permission from the panchayat president, who can depute a licenced gunman to cull the animal. Earlier, the farmer had to procure this permission from the forest department, but the procedure was cumbersome and resulted in inordinate delay.

While Raju’s family celebrated the licensed killing of the boar, there’s no respite for Thomas, as about 6,000 of the 9,000 households in his jurisdiction are incurring huge losses in agriculture due to wild boar attacks.

“There are hundreds of boar here, and we have only five licenced gunmen to tackle them. I’m worried the farmers in my village will continue to incur more losses,” said Thomas. Under the new rules, he is the honorary Chief Wildlife Warden with the same powers as State Chief Wild Warden.

Panchayat heads like Thomas will see a need for more licenced gunmen, and already district collector offices, which have the authority to approve gun licences after obtaining clearances from the police as well as the revenue and forest departments, are seeing an increase in applications.

On May 25, after issuing an order to empower local bodies with culling rights, Kerala Minister of Forests AK Saseendran said, “This is a new experiment; there are bound to be some shortcomings. The government is trying to tackle the menace without violating the Wildlife Protection Act.”

A senior forest officer, on condition of anonymity, said they didn’t know the exact number of wild boar in Kerala, as no detailed survey had been conducted before the culling orders were issued. The last wild boar census was conducted in Kerala in 2011; it stood at 48,034.

Though the panchayat should bear the cost of culling, in most cases farmers might have to bear the initial costs, which is tough on those whose farms have already been affected by boar attacks, the forest officer added.

“To avoid poaching, farmers are even forbidden from selling the meat after the kill. We need to wait for at least a year before receiving feedback and rework the guidelines accordingly.”

Earlier, farmers dug trenches, erected walls and even resorted to using poison, electric traps and illegal shooting to control the menace. This often caused untoward accidents. For instance, on May 21, in Vithura gram panchayat in Thiruvananthapuram district, 57-year-old Selvaraj was electrocuted by an electric fence.

“Farmers are not resorting to illegal means anymore. I have already received more than 150 applications for culling rights,” said VS Baburaj, president of Vithura gram panchayat.

The panchayats intend to expedite the otherwise exhausting process of granting permission and connecting farmers with licenced gunmen. The applications are approved at the president’s discretion.

These applications give each farmer the standing right to ask for the culling of boar that enter their farms after they are verified as genuine by the panchayat. After this, the panchayat president can grant permission even over a phone call, deputing an available gunman for the task. Depending on the particular farmer’s financial standing, the panchayat may or may not accept the responsibility of paying the gunmen, who are compensated to the tune of Rs 1000 per culling.

Wild boar – a vermin or not?

In the past five years, wild boar attacks caused 21 deaths and 515 injuries among people. So far, the Kerala government has received 10,700 applications from farmers seeking compensation for the damages.

The compensation process, however, is laggard. According to a Kerala forest department official, around Rs 5 crore has been disbursed as compensation for crop loss against wild boar attacks in 2020-2021; Rs 3.53 crore in 2019-20; and Rs 4.6 crore in 2018-19.

According to the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, the culling of a wild boar is a criminal offence, involving three years imprisonment so farmers are in a dilemma about the legality of culling despite panchayat sanctions.

With the rise in man-animal conflicts, farmers’ organisations have been pressuring the Centre to declare wild boar as vermin.

“There are strict guidelines for declaring an animal ‘vermin’. They cannot be declared vermin unless they’re dangerous across the country, which wild boar are not,” said Bhupendra Yadav, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, on the sideline of the Anil Agarwal Annual Environmental Dialogue conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment in Nimli, Rajasthan. This was before the May 25 announcement in Kerala. He added that he was aware of the situation in Kerala, but declaring boar vermin would make them vulnerable to poaching across India.

According to P Basheer, a forest officer from Edathara sector in Kozhikode, who had overseen the first culling operation in Kodancherry village: “On the pretext of culling to save life and crop, hunting shouldn’t be permitted. We are duty-bound to ensure that after the culling, the carcass is buried properly.”

Culling not a panacea

A section of environmentalists and animal rights activists, including Maneka Gandhi, has, however, protested this move by the Kerala government.

“Wild boar is the only species that consumes bracken, an undergrowth that prevents seedlings from growing by blocking sunlight in forest,” Gandhi explained. “Besides, its habit of constantly scratching the forest floor clears the ground for fresh growth. The demand to cull wild boar was made by hunters and others who stood to gain monetarily through poaching, not by agriculturalists.”

The Kerala forest minister unequivocally denied these allegations, pointing out that the decision was aimed at finding a permanent solution for farmers and people residing on forest fringes, and that the government wouldn’t allow hunting.

However, farmers claimed the problem was not restricted to wild boar alone. P Vijayalakshmi, a farm woman in Kulappully village in Palakkad district, said, “I have suffered financial losses of more than Rs 1 lakh in a year due to animal attacks. Not only wild boar but also monkeys and peacock have been regularly raiding my crops. I can cull wild boar, but what about the others? Does the law permit culling them, too?”

People living on the fringes of forests have been facing attacks from wild elephant, tiger, leopard, monkey, bison and peacock on the regular. According to the Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department, 1,048 people lost their lives to animal attacks in the past decade.

Shrinking forests and increasing urbanisation have forced the animals, including wild boar, out of the woods. They enter farmlands in search of plantains and tapioca. State-controlled culling may not offer any permanent solution unless measures are taken to preserve the forests and fight climate change.

“Water and food scarcity due to the degradation of forests and climate change are the main causes for man-animal conflict. Infact, we cannot find a permanent solution without addressing this root cause. But I support culling for the time being because no other option exists for farmers to save their lives and farms,” said Dr VS Vijayan, former chairman of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board.

“Culling may bring temporary relief, but it cannot weed out the problem entirely,” said Vijayalakshmi.

ALSO READ-In this panchayat in Wayanad, tree banking scheme aims carbon neutrality


Wayanad turns to bamboo to avoid flood woes

Shaken by the impact of the 2019 floods, the district administration implemented a programme to plant bamboo…writes Divya GS

“Not an inch of land that was covered with bamboo caved into the river,” said Kelu, pointing at the lush green bamboo stretch on the banks of the Chalipuzha river, a tributary of the Kabini flowing through Kottathara panchayat in Keralas Wayanad district.

Along this same stretch, other patches of land, including some farmland, were washed away by the river during the floods.

“Greedy farmers here had encroached upon the riverbank and cut down the bamboo shoots. They paid the price for their deeds when the floodwaters washed away a good portion of their farmland,” Kelu added, watering the bamboo saplings he had planted recently on the riverbank.

A district of numerous streams and natural water channels, Wayanad is known for its bamboo species which plays a powerful role in protecting the banks of rivers. In fact, the environmental damage to riverbanks and their erosion were among the major causes of the devastating 2018 and 2019 floods.

In Wayanad, Kottathara is one of the most vulnerable gram panchayats. It’s a floodplain that gets inundated in various magnitudes every year.

“Bamboo can mitigate the impact of floods, landslides and drought. It reduces the velocity of gushing water, prevents the erosion of surface soil in sloped terrain, acts as a protective shield on riverbanks, reduces chances of drought and improves biodiversity,” said retired district soil conservation officer PU Das.

“The plant also helps in carbon sequestration. Farmers here had successfully adapted a bamboo cultivation model from Kenya that stabilises land in flood and landslide-prone areas. Studies by the National Bamboo Mission also suggest the same.”

Kelu, a member of the Kuruchiya tribe, has been planting bamboo saplings on riverbanks since he was a child. Now 56-year-old, he’s single-handedly responsible for planting a few thousand bamboo shoots on riverbanks and waysides, all of this with no particular motive in mind, but a habit inculcated from the elders of his community. But today, Kelu is an exception, as not many others from the indigenous Kuruchiya tribe appear to be interested in continuing with this tradition.

Bamboo was once an integral part of the culture of several tribal communities of Wayanad. From a source of food, to raw material to build houses and to be fashioned into fishing or hunting tools, the species held an integral place in their lives because of which they planted and protected it. But the tribals having given up their traditional lifestyle; they no longer find a reason to act in the interest of the bamboo.

However, taking lessons from the floods of 2018 and 2019, the Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSSS) took on the task of planting bamboo saplings in the district. They planted around 30,000 bamboo saplings on the banks of the Kabini and its various tributaries flowing through the Thirunelli and Kottathara panchayats. Titled ‘Community Lead Disaster Resilience Project’, it was part of the relief measures carried out in response to the 2018 floods, which went on until 2020-2021.

“It’s common knowledge among people here that bamboo can prevent soil erosion because of their large, fibrous root system. We chose it for its lifespan, apart from other annual vegetation like colocasia,” explained Asha Kiran, Project officer, Community Lead Disaster Resilient Project, IGSSS for Wayanad district.

“During our survey and impact studies, we also found that civilians planted bamboo of their own accord along riverbanks in our project area.”

Overall, the process turned out to be easier than expected.

Kiran shared that the riverside communities here were “in exact need of this kind of support, as they are the ones who are worst-affected by flooding and understand well the causes and remedies required”.

Studies under the project identified vulnerable and eroded banks extending to around 6.5 km at three different sites in Kottathara. Next, a three-party strategy was devised: the IGSSS would purchase and supply the bamboo saplings; the local governing body would plant them as per the site plan developed under MGNREGA; and the community would be responsible for maintenance. On their maturing, the gram panchayat would utilise these bamboo plants for their livelihood requirements, through self-help groups or other community organisations in the future.

The initial plan of action was to plant the saplings through a volunteer programme, but pandemic restrictions prompted them to involve MGNREGA and the gram panchayat, Kiran said, adding that this strategy worked successfully in Thirunelly for a similar project.

“Once MGNREGA got involved, it became a flagship project,” she said. “In November-December 2020, the bamboo project was included in the work schedule that the block panchayat approved. The work took two months, with 55 people toiling every day. It cost Rs 1,00,312 in Kottathara, including the purchase and delivery of the saplings.”

Shaken by the impact of the 2019 floods, the district administration, too, implemented a programme to plant bamboo.

“We had some challenges while initiating the programme, like a dearth of public land and the reluctance of farmers, the predominant community in Wayanad, to plant bamboo on their land, as its potential to generate revenue was low,” said Das, the former district soil conservation officer.

However, one farmer agreed to plant wild reed, a variety of bamboo, on 3.5 acres of barren land he owned. Altogether, 25,000 saplings were planted free of cost on this land under the government initiative. Two years down the line, the land is now green and boosting the biodiversity of the area.

In fact, the MGNREGA workers involved in the IGSSS project were farmers from the region and hence the beneficiaries themselves. Kiran recalled when they were delivering saplings near a riverbank, some natives “took a few from them to fill tiny bamboo belt gaps near the riverbank”.

Moreover, given the marketing possibilities for bamboo (wild reed) shoots in the incense-making industry, bamboo cultivation is gradually gaining momentum among farmers in Wayanad. Although wild reeds are not indigenous to the region, their marketing potential is making them popular.

“Wild reed may not be endemic to Wayanad, but it grows well in the district’s red earth and presents great marketing possibilities,” Das said.

Furthermore, Uravu Foundation, an NGO in Wayanad that’s the face of the Kerala government’s bamboo plantation scheme, supplied IGSSS with 2,950 saplings of three bamboo varieties suitable for the district: Bambusa balcooa, Dendrocalamus strictus, and Ochlandra travancorica. These free saplings were in addition to the technical advice they provided in the early stages of the programme.

“All three varieties can withstand being underwater for days. As Ochlandra needs more water to thrive, the saplings of this particular variety were planted in areas closer to the river,” explained Anjitha, an IGSSS staffer.

As the initiative was carried out under MGNREGA, the community could cover the riverside belt of 9.7 km and thereby have a greater impact on protecting the soil of the region.

“After planting the saplings, we made a protective cover around each of them using areca nut palm leaves. About 90% of the saplings have survived so far,” said Chandrika, an MGNREGA worker in Ward 1 of Kottathara panchayat.

The bamboo saplings begin to serve their purpose after eight months and take three years to mature. While the full benefits from the drive are not visible yet, early signs indicate a lot of promise that these lands and the communities dependent on them will be protected from floods.

ALSO READ-In this panchayat in Wayanad, tree banking scheme aims carbon neutrality

Arab News Kerala

Aster DM Healthcare to launch advanced healthcare facility in Kerala

With the new hospital in Trivandrum expected to add 2000 jobs, Aster would be providing employment to over 10,000 professionals in the State…reports Asian Lite News

Aster DM Healthcare, one of the largest private healthcare service providers in GCC and India, announced the launch of its latest integrated advanced healthcare facility at Trivandrum in Kerala. The hospital will be a 550-bed unit and will enclose 5.76 lakh sq. ft built-up area excluding the provision for 1 lakh sq. ft for multi-level car parking space. The company’s investment will be in the tune of 500 crores+ for the entire project, with the first phase having a capacity of 350 beds is expected to be operational by FY26.

This super-specialty facility will house several centres for clinical excellence that will cater to the functions of Cardiac Sciences, Organ Transplant, Neurosciences, Orthopaedics, Oncology, Urology & Nephrology, Gastro Sciences, and Woman & Child wellness.  The hospital will offer OPD, IPD, ICU including high dependency units, NICU, PICU and transplant ICU, day-care support and 24 hours trauma & emergency response services. Robotics and new generation systems would be introduced gradually.

Commenting on the launch, Dr. Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman and Managing Director of Aster DM Healthcare, said, “Aster Capital at Thiruvananthapuram has been conceived as a comprehensive facility that will deliver primary to quaternary healthcare to the people of the region. It has been a long-cherished dream of Aster DM Healthcare to be in the capital city to make quality healthcare at an affordable cost accessible to the population. There were large number of patients who were visiting our Aster Medcity at Kochi — and we thought it is our duty to bring the services to their doorsteps. This will increase our footprint not only in Kerala but across India with over 4500 beds in the country. We hope that the Aster Capital Hospital will become a destination for the highest quality healthcare in the country attracting medical professionals and patients to the state from abroad providing facilities at par with global standards.” 

ALSO READ:Taqdeer Award and Aster Hospital sign cooperation agreement

With 15 hospitals, 11 clinics, 131 pharmacies and 114 labs and PECs, Aster DM Healthcare remains committed to its promise of making quality healthcare affordable and accessible to people in India. With a large presence across 5 States – Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the Group has been introducing world class healthcare with state of art infrastructure, advanced clinical procedures and interventional methodologies to local patients in India. The Thiruvananthapuram project will illustrate the group’s commitment to the goal of remaining at the forefront of a health management system that aspires to be inclusive, uncompromisingly effective and powered by a culture of concern. The hospital will aim to maximize the benefit of providing cohesive units for diagnostic and pharmaceutical services. 

Kerala Lite Blogs

Kerala girl enters India Book of Records for Warli paintings

Najiya is the daughter of Navas and Najma of Kaniyauram in Thiruvananthapuram…reports Asian Lite News

Najiya Navas, a graduate from Thiruvananthapuram, has entered the India Book of Records by drawing pictures in the technique of Warli painting, an art form unique to the tribal community of North Sahyadri Range in Maharashtra.

A Warli painting made by her of 5 inches in length and breadth has fetched her the India Book of Records recognition. Her entry breaks the previous record of a 10-inch length and breadth Warli painting.

Najiya has not learned painting formally and picked up the tricks of the trade from the internet. She has drawn more than 100 pictures so far.

Najiya said that it was during the Covid-19 lockdown that she entered the world of Warli painting and has already sold several of her drawings online and earned money from it.

She said that she is planning to learn drawing and painting in a systematic manner from Mumbai in the coming days. Najiya has already sent her pictures to the Guinness World Records.

Najiya is the daughter of Navas and Najma of Kaniyauram in Thiruvananthapuram.

ALSO READ-Girls entry, ‘revolutionary decision by Kalamandalam’

Kerala Lite Blogs

Kerala’s kalaripayattu is a rage in Kashmir

Another reason for its growing popularity is the recognition given by the Central Government to the sport. They know if they win a medal, they will get a scholarship as well as a job…reports Asian Lite News

Kerala’s popular martial art form kalarippayattu has travelled all the way from the southernmost tip of India to the very top in the North to capture the hearts of Jammu and Kashmir.

The tiny state has steadfastly been training 1,000 young girls and boys in 13 districts and their very best have arrived for the Khelo India Youth Games here in Panchkula, aiming to grab at least a couple of medals.

They don’t have the advantage of traditional kalari centres, though, which need to be constructed according to specifications of size and direction.

So, in the absence of proper gurukulams, the enthusiastic kids practice kalari in parks, schools and open spaces.

“It is not very difficult to attract kids to our sport,” Tasreen Sharma, who is looking after the J&K Kalari team said.

“We simply tell them the truth, that kalari has given birth to all the martial arts that they watch in movies. Right from karate to kung-fu to taekwondo. And that is enough to motivate them,” Tasreen said.

“Our girls feel empowered when they play kalari. It’s also liberating for the young who have not got many opportunities in the past,” she said.

Another reason for its growing popularity is the recognition given by the Central Government to the sport. They know if they win a medal, they will get a scholarship as well as a job.

Kalaripayattu, of course, originated in the Land of Gods – Kerala – about 3,000 years ago. If myths are to be believed, it was created by Lord Parashurama, for 108 Kalaris, who were to destroy the demons who were causing havoc on earth.

The oldest martial art survived through the long march of history by remaining inextricable from the social and cultural fabric of Kerala. It is also the only martial art in the world that incorporates an entire system of medicine called kalari marma – to heal and cure the injured and wounded.

Different variants of the art evolved across Kerala from the 12th to the 17th Century. It played a pivotal role in the evolution of Kerala, with no religious, social or political event ever being complete without a kalari display.

All young boys were even sent for customary training to gain physical, mental and spiritual synergy. It is said the kings in Kerala didn’t keep armies; whenever required, the kalari centres provided the warriors.

During the Colonial rule, kalari was banned. Undeterred, the old masters took their art to the deep valleys and trained their young disciples in underground pits – away from the eyes of the British.

The suppression of this art made it more vigorous; post-Independence, kalari returned to the centre-stage of the cultural life of Kerala. In 1958, the Kerala Government recognised it as a sporting event.

In 2015, the Indian Kalaripayattu Federation was recognised by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports as a National Sports Federation. Since then, the Federation has been conducting National Championships.

ALSO READ-Girls entry, ‘revolutionary decision by Kalamandalam’

-Top News Kerala

Kerala’s solid waste management project gets rolling

Minister for Local Self-Government, M.V Govindan has also instructed the urban local bodies to complete the same in the remaining 92 municipalities within four months….reports Asian Lite News

In a bid to make the cities of Kerala free from solid waste, the state government on Wednesday initiated the Kerala Solid Waste Management Project in all the 93 urban local bodies of the southern state.

Minister for Local Self-Government, M.V Govindan, has given instructions to carry out data collection and GIS mapping in all the urban local bodies to take stock of the quantity of waste generated every day in the households, commercial establishments, markets, schools and offices.

He said a basic grant will be given to all the local bodies to strengthen and enhance the existing waste management systems.

“The grant will be given based on the approval of the waste management projects submitted by the local bodies. They can also use the grant to implement various solid waste treatment projects tailored to their local specifications,” said Govindan.

On a pilot basis, this was completed in Thalassery Municipality.

Govindan has also instructed the urban local bodies to complete the same in the remaining 92 municipalities within four months.

This exercise would help every local body create scientific waste treatment units according to the quantity and nature of the waste generated, and also considering the space constraints in each municipality.

Land remediation activities have also begun in the first phase in areas where waste has traditionally been dumped.

Thirty-four legacy waste disposal sites have been identified in different districts. Here, the initial steps of land reclamation have also begun.

As part of the project, more sites will be identified and reclaimed in each municipality in the future. The lands will be reclaimed by segregating the mixed waste heaps that have been accumulated over the years and treating and disposing of them without any environmental, health or social problems.

The State Project Management Unit (SPMU) will assist the municipalities in the implementation of the project.

ALSO READ: Monsoon hits Kerala, conditions favourable for further advance

Environment Kerala

Monsoon hits Kerala, conditions favourable for further advance

Isolated heavy rainfall is also likely over Kerala & Mahe till June 2…reports Asian Lite News

The much awaited Southwest Monsoon reached Kerala on Sunday, three days ahead of its normal date of onset of June 1, India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

For the agrarian economy, the news of onset of SW monsoon – termed as the real finance minister of India – over Kerala is the most awaited news at this time of the year. Having a normal monsoon or not has a major impact on the domestic economy vis-a-vis crop production.

“Southwest Monsoon has advanced into remaining parts of south Arabian Sea, Lakshadweep area, most parts of Kerala, some parts of south Tamil Nadu, some parts of Gulf of Mannar and some more parts of southwest Bay of Bengal on May 29. Thus, Southwest Monsoon has set in over Kerala today, against the normal date of June 1, i.e. three days ahead of its normal date,” IMD statement said.

The conditions that are satisfied for declaration of onset of Southwest Monsoon over Kerala include wind speed, direction, outgoing long wave radiation (OLR) and rainfall at designated stations.

“The depth of westerly winds extends up to 4.5 km above mean sea level. The strength of the westerly winds has increased over southeast Arabian Sea and is about 15-20 kts (25-35 kmph),” IMD said.

“Cloudiness over southeast Arabian Sea and adjoining areas of Kerala have increased and the average outgoing long wave radiation (OLR) is about 189.7 W/M2 (thus, satisfying the condition of OLR is less than 200 W/M2),” it added.

One condition that has not been fully satisfied is that there has been widespread rainfall activity over Kerala during past 24 hours and out of 14 rainfall monitoring stations for declaring onset of monsoon over Kerala, only 10 have received rainfall of 2.5 mm or more.

However, conditions are favourable for further advance of southwest monsoon into some parts of central Arabian Sea, reaming parts of Kerala, some more parts of Tamil Nadu, some parts of Karnataka, and some more parts of south and Central Bay of Bengal, some parts of northeast Bay of Bengal and northeastern states during next 3-4 days, the Met forecast said.

The rainfall/thunderstorm forecast & warning said that under the influence of monsoonal westerly winds from Arabian Sea over the south peninsular India in lower & middle tropospheric levels and a cyclonic circulation over Kerala & neighbourhood in mid tropospheric levels, widespread light/moderate rainfall with thunderstorm/lightning is very likely over Kerala & Mahe and Lakshadweep and isolated to scattered rainfall over Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Puducherry & Karaikal during next five days.

Isolated heavy rainfall is also likely over Kerala & Mahe till June 2.

This year, IMD’s first prediction for monsoon onset was for May 27 with the model error of plus/minus four days. But after that, there was a lot of flip flop by the IMD over actual date. Prior to it, on May 19, the IMD had said, the SW monsoon onset over Kerala was possible by May 25.

Earlier on May 26, the IMD had said monsoon onset can happen anytime in the forecasting week (meaning till June 1) and the conditions are being monitored real time. It did finally happen before June 1.

ALSO READ-Countdown to onset of southwest monsoon begins


Kerala tourism back on track

As for foreign tourist arrivals, the number increased from 14,489 in the first quarter of 2021 to 43,547 during the corresponding period in the current year, notching a significant increase of 200 per cent….reports Asian Lite News

Figures point out that Kerala tourism appears to have bounced back after the Covid pandemic as 3.8 million domestic tourists have arrived in the first quarter of 2022, marking an impressive growth of 72.48 per cent as compared with 2.2 million footfalls during the corresponding period in 2021, said Tourism Minister P.A. Mohamed Riyas.

Riyas also pointed out that going by the prevailing trend, Kerala tourism is set to attract record number of tourists this year on the strength of its globally-acclaimed assets, new products and initiatives like caravan tourism and by exploring the unexplored destinations across the state.

He said Ernakulam district registered the highest number of 811,426 domestic tourists, followed by Thiruvananthapuram (600,933), Idukki (511,947), Thrissur (358,052), and Wayanad (310,322).

Five districts — Idukki, Malappuram, Kasaragod, Pathanamthitta and Wayanad — registered the highest ever footfall since their formation.

On the ambitious project to explore the unexplored destinations, he said the government will soon announce a ‘Destination Challenge’ initiative in association with local self-government department (LSGD) to identify at least one destination under each LSG institution.

The LSGs will be the main beneficiary of this project.

“Tourism clubs will be formed in college campuses as youngsters can effectively work together as volunteers in keeping tourist assets well maintained,” added Riyas.

As for foreign tourist arrivals, the number increased from 14,489 in the first quarter of 2021 to 43,547 during the corresponding period in the current year, notching a significant increase of 200 per cent. Thus, there was an increase of about 29,000 foreign tourist arrivals in Kerala during the three-month period.

The Tourism Department has also launched a WhatsApp chatbot ‘Maya’, which is a virtual tour guide

With Kerala coffers in bad shape and tourism being the only industry expected to bring in revenue, top Kerala Tourism officials are going forward with aggressive marketing and reached Oman and Bahrain to sell Kerala’s time-tested tourism products.

Detailed presentations on Kerala’s pitch to the Middle East were made as a ‘Paradise Four Hours Away’. New products and events such as Keravan Kerala (Caravan Tourism) and Champions Boat League were showcased.

Tourism-related activities in Kerala in 2019 of Rs 10,271 crore brought in precious foreign exchange. After the pandemic, the industry is slowly getting back on its feet.

The business meets were held in Muscat on Tuesday, and in Manama on Wednesday.

The Kerala delegation at these two road shows was led by AKS Srinivas, Principal Secretary, Kerala Tourism, and VR Krishna Teja Mylavarapu, Director, Kerala Tourism.

Amit Narang, Indian Ambassador to Oman, and Piyush Srivastava, Indian Ambassador to Bahrain, attended the road shows in Muscat and Manama, respectively, as Chief Guests.

Srinivas said that the Middle East is a strategic market for Kerala Tourism in terms of tourist arrivals from June to August, which is the period of summer holiday there and the residents travel to cooler climes to escape the blistering summer heat.

Kerala’s monsoon is an ideal time for tourists from Gulf countries and many of them also opt for the state’s Ayurvedic and holistic wellness treatments during this time,” said Srinivas.

The business meetings in both the Middle Eastern countries saw successful interactions between Kerala Tourism trade partners in the private sector and buyers from Muscat and Manama.

ALSO READ: Southwest monsoon expected over Kerala next week

Southwest monsoon expected over Kerala next week

Last week, the IMD had already announced the onset date of SW Monsoon over Kerala on May 27 with a model error margin of plus/minus four days….reports Asian Lite News

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Thursday reiterated that Southwest Monsoon onset over Kerala is possible by May 25.

“Conditions are favourable for further advance of Southwest Monsoon into some more parts of south and central Bay of Bengal and some parts of south Arabian Sea during next two days. Conditions will continue to be favourable for further progress leading to onset of Southwest Monsoon over Kerala towards end of the week,” IMD’s Extended Range Forecast for the week starting Thursday said.

Last week, the IMD had already announced the onset date of SW Monsoon over Kerala on May 27 with a model error margin of plus/minus four days.

Much before its normal date of May 22, the monsoon has reached and crossed Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Meanwhile, due to strong cross equatorial flow from Bay of Bengal to Andaman Sea in lower tropospheric levels, fairly widespread to widespread rainfall with isolated heavy rainfall and thunderstorm/lightning/gusty winds are very likely over Andaman and Nicobar Islands during the week starting from Thursday till next Wednesday, the duration as per the Extended Range Forecast.

“A cyclonic circulation lies over Gulf of Martaban and adjoining Myanmar extended upto middle-tropospheric levels. Under its influence, a Low Pressure Area (LPA) has formed over the same region on Thursday evening. It is likely to be more marked and move northeast-wards towards Myanmar during next 24 hours,” the IMD said, adding, under its influence, squally weather with wind speed reaching 40-50 kmph gusting to 60 kmph are likely over north Andaman Sea and adjoining east-central Bay of Bengal by Sunday.

“A cyclonic circulation lies over north interior Tamil Nadu and neighbourhood extending upto middle tropospheric levels. It is likely to move northwards during the next two days and become less marked thereafter. A north-south trough runs from central Madhya Pradesh to interior Tamil Nadu in lower tropospheric levels,” the bulletin said, adding: “Under the influence of these systems, fairly widespread to widespread light/moderate rainfall with isolated thunderstorm/lightning/ gusty winds are very likely over Kerala-Mahe and Karnataka during most days till Thursday.”

Isolated heavy rainfall is very likely over coastal and south interior Karnataka on Friday, heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places likely over Kerala and Mahe on Friday, and isolated heavy rainfall for rest days of the week.

Scattered to fairly widespread light/moderate rainfall with isolated thunderstorm/ lightning are very likely over Tamil Nadu and Rayalaseema and isolated rainfall/ thunderstorms over rest parts of peninsular India during the week.

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Gokulam Kerala defeat ATK Mohun Bagan by 4-2

Gokulam Kerala FC got their first booking of the game as Emil Benny received a yellow card for bringing down Manvir Singh outside the edge of the box in the 24th minute…reports Asian Lite News

ATK Mohun Bagan suffered a 2-4 loss at the hands of Gokulam Kerala in the opening match of the AFC Cup at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Wednesday.

Vincento Alberto Anesse’s men took the lead through Luka Majcen (50′) only for it to be cancelled out by a Pritam Kotal equaliser (53′). The Malabrians struck back with two quick-fire goals from Rishad (57′), Majcen (65′), and super-sub Jithin (89′) to ensure they collected three points against the Mariners who failed to overturn the deficit despite a Liston Colaco free-kick (80′).

The Mariners started the contest on the frontfoot making the most of their possession, as Roy Krishna struck a long-range shot right after making an interception at the centre of the pitch, which was saved by Gokulam Kerala FC goalkeeper Rakshit Dagar in the 6th minute.

In the 16th minute, the Mariners continued to explode forward, this time through Liston Colaco on the left flank whose cross was squandered high above the post by Roy Krishna. Seconds later, Joni Kauko danced past the Malabarian midfield to find Roy Krishna open on the left wing who went for a shot from his weak foot but was denied by the post.

Then, the Malabarians put the Mariners on the backfoot after progressing forward on a counter through Jourdaine Fletcher who smashed it right in front of ATK Mohun Bagan keeper Amrinder Singh who comfortably saved it.

Gokulam Kerala FC got their first booking of the game as Emil Benny received a yellow card for bringing down Manvir Singh outside the edge of the box in the 24th minute.

Juan Ferrando’s men continued to trouble the Malabarian defence, this time through a brilliant one-two between David Williams and Krishna who found Kauko free in the box but the Finnish international placed his shot right in the hands of the shot-stopper Dargar.

The Green and Maroons were dealt with a blow as Tiri was replaced by Ashutosh Mehta, as the former had to be stretchered off the field as he suffered a huge blow on his knee after taking down Luka Majcen on the counter while also receiving a yellow card for the challenge.

Following an action packed first-half, both sides went goalless into the break.
At the start of the first half, Anesse’s men failed to capitalise as Luka Majcen missed a big chance after failing to convert from a pole position through a brilliantly put ball by Emil Benny.

The Malabarians drew first blood in the 50th minute through Luka Majcen, who was left unmarked inside the box and finished off from inside the box through a Tahir Zaman cross who did very well to cut back from the right wing to find Majcen.

With no time to spare, the Mariners levelled matters with a Kotal equaliser in the 53rd minute who tapped it in from a Colaco corner.

No sooner, Rishad found the net again for Gokulam Kerala FC with a calm and composed finish in the 57th minute, from a Fletcher pass who ran down the field to get hold of the ball, finding Rishad at the right time.

Eight minutes later, Anesse’s men showed thei prowess in front of goal again as their forward Majcen provided them with a two-goal cushion. Fletcher, using his physical strength, outmuscled Mehta and put it through for Majcen, who struck it right down the middle, through Amrinder’s legs to make it 3-1 for the Malabarians.

With the game continuously shifting from one end to the other, opportunities were plentiful for each side, giving the spectators value for their money.

In the 80th minute, the Mariners halved the deficit through a beautiful Colaco free-kick, taken from right outside the box. Colaco, known for his free-kicks, struck it at the far post with ease giving the keeper no time for a save.

The game swung in favour of Gokulam Kerala FC again when substitute Sreekuttan was through on goal after gliding past two defenders but failed to produce a goal after striking the shot way past the goal in the 81st minute.

In the dying stages of the game, Anesse’s men produced magic through Majcen and Jithin, as the former placed a line-breaking pass and the latter struck it in first touch in the right bottom corner to make it four for the Malabarians.

Gokulam Kerala FC made the Mariners pay for their missed chances and asserted domination in return, the result will help them secure the top position in Group D as things stand.

The Malabarians take on Bashundhara Kings whereas the Mariners clash against Maziya SC on Saturday.

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