Sunday, Nov 23, 2003
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By S. Anil Radhakrishnan
In the first leg, the `pleasure craft' will be introduced in the backwaters of Kochi, which has become a major berthing point for luxury cruise liners arriving during the tourist season.
Official sources told The Hindu that two pontoons and 13 inflated speed boats would be launched in the backwaters of the State before the end of the financial year.
The pontoon boat, to be introduced for the first time in the country for tourism activities, has an aluminium body and can accommodate 15 to 17 persons. The double-hull boats will have a front open deck with deluxe forward lounge seat with pull-out beds on either side and two tables with fixing pedestals.
The suite of the double-hull boats will have two lounge seats with pull-out beds. Bathrooms with shower and toilet, galley with sink, wall shelves, sliding doors, rooftop sundeck and stereo sound system are the other features of the pontoon boats.
The pontoon boat will have a length of 8.75 to 9 metres and a diameter of 0.65 to 0.75 metres. The deck will have a length of 8.60 to 8.85 metres and the width will be 2.50 to 2.70 metres
The official sources said that the main advantage of the pontoon boat was that they could be used even during inclement weather and that they would not capsize as the "kettuvalloms'' did when berthed in the backwaters.
The self-driven inflated speedboats will have an outboard engine with rigid base and inflated buoyancy tube. The two-seater/four-seater inflated speed boats, being introduced in the backwater stretches of the State by the department for the first time, can also be operated in any climate.
Official sources said the department would introduce the four-seater inflated speedboat to accommodate maximum tourists as only one tourist can travel in a two-seater boat.
The inflated speedboats, each weighing 200 to 250 kg, are now being used by the Indian Navy and Coastguard only. The advantage of these boats is that it is light and can be transported from one location to another easily.
The official sources said that Rs. 146.56 lakhs had been set apart for introducing two pontoons and 13 inflated speedboats. Of this, the Union Government has sanctioned Rs. 75 lakhs.
The pontoon boat costs on an average Rs. 15 lakhs while an inflated speedboat costs Rs. 3 lakhs. The department has entrusted the task of introducing the pleasure crafts to the Tourist Resorts (Kerala) Limited.
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