Kalpetta: Monsoon tourism has picked up majorly in the Pookode lake with the coming of the rains and fog. Domestic and foreign tourists are arriving in scores at this scenic location to enjoy boat rides in the rain on the fog enveloped lake. Despite the high income generated, the tourists arriving here are being exposed to avoidable dangers due to the negligence and indifference of the authorities. The lake which is a mainstay of the booming tourism sector in Wayanad has neither life guards nor vehicles for evacuation and medical emergencies in case of an eventuality.
The tourists, especially the foreigners, stubbornly look forward to a boating experience in the rain. This is possible in a covered boat during the rains but stays impossible when the visibility drops due to fog conditions. Large fallen trees and bloodsucking leeches are other problems faced by the tourists. While the leech problem needs scientific intervention to be solved, providing life guards is more of an immediate and administrative solution that can improve the tourism potential of Pookode. There is also an urgent need to provide the lake tourism premises with an emergency use vehicle.
At present there are six row boats and five pedal boats at Pookode. Altogether there are just seven people to row these boats. While the number of boats mandate the presence of at least 20 rowers, less than half this number is present here. The old boats that are taken off service during rains are often demanded for services when the rush peaks leading to altercations.
The staff strength is also wanting despite the restriction in the boating times from 9 in the morning to 5 in the evening. The last few years have seen an exponential rise in the number of tourists arriving at the lake. Till June, around 26,000 people including children have visited this location. In the financial year 201516, the lake earned Rs 2.62 crore in revenue from the tourists, majority of whom foreigners and visitors from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.