Thiruvananthapuram: The annual tourism week celebrations, being organised by the Kerala State Tourism Department as part of the Onam festival, commenced today with 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan lighting the traditional lamp.

Speaking on the occasion, Pinarayi said the aim of the government was to create a society of equality. Though the state was not rich in financial resources, Kerala was able to
make achievements in human index developments, he said.

"That is why Kerala came into focus in the international levels. We have to move further in this regard and the state can make more progress if people stand united", he said.

The Government has initiated programmes to create a 'Nava Keralam' with an objective to make growth and progress in accordance with time, he said.

The Chief Minister used the occasion to caution the people about decrease in ground water level in the state in recent times.

The scenic beauty and greenery of the state has earned the name 'God's Own country'. But, if we do not identify properly the challenge the state is facing now, there was
possibility that state would lose its greenery, he said.

Water resources in the state were turning barren, he said adding, this was a serious situation and people have to face this challenge unitedly.

Pinarayi Vijayan wanted the people to take up unitedly steps to recharge wells and ponds through rain harvesting.

Opposition leader in the assembly Ramesh Chennithala, Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran and noted actor Mammooty were among those present on the occasion.

The festivities would come to a close on September 9. Events are also being organised in all district headquarters as part of the tourism week.

PTI