Kochi: A major cause for pollution of Kochi backwaters for long was disposal of wastes from tourist boats and vessels. The Ernakulam District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) will set up a Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) at Marine Drive, the hub of tourist boat operations, where each boat operator can ecologically dispose of wastes for a fixed user fee.
The initiative comes in the wake of the DTPC facilitating houseboat and sea-cruises among others to woo more tourists to the commercial capital. Kochi-based Empire Greenix Ventures Pvt Ltd, aided by the Council, on Thursday started houseboats with night stay facility.
"The STP will be set up at a cost of Rs 10 lakh and the DTPC will provide the initial fund of Rs seven lakh. The PCB will then be entrusted with its functioning. Also there will be regular checking to ensure the sewage waste from boats is not dumped into water," said DTPC secretary S Vijayakumar.
Already the Pollution Control Board (PCB) has mandated the wastes should be collected and disposed ecologically once in three months. It even denied permission to new boats with bio-tiolets rolled out by the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC) for lacking STP facility.
"We've identified land at the start of Goshree bridges for setting up the STP. We're in discussion with the Port Trust," the official added.
Meanwhile, the DTPC will set up a floating permanent performing arts centre (Koothambalam) at the Ernakulam wharf.
"Our earlier plan was to set up the centre near the upcoming new cruise terminal at Ernakulam wharf. However, the centre can be utilised only during peak tourism season when the foreign ships call on. The floating Koothambalam can also be tugged to various wharves like Bolgatty, Kadamakuddy or Marine Drive," he added.