A chance to view underwater treasures

Tourists at the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park can get a closer look at underwater treasures, including the corals, as glass bottom boat rides will be introduced soon.

The Tamil Nadu Forest Department is all set to start the much-awaited ‘glass bottom boats eco-tourism’ in the park after demarking the eco-tourism zone covering four of the 21 islands in the Mandapam sub-group.

As part of exploiting the tourism potential at the historic Rameswaram island, the department has drawn up an ambitious plan to promote eco-tourism during June first week after completing the demarcation of the tourism zone area by installing buoys by the month-end.

Officials said Indian Institute of Technology Madras, which has been awarded the contract for installing the buoys, has begun making sinkers — one-tonne weighing concrete structures, which would keep the buoys at their assigned positions. The sinkers were being made at Kunthukal, near Pamban, they said.

28 buoys

The 28 buoys would be installed around Kurusadai, Poomarichan, Pullivasal and Shingle, at a distance of 500 meters between two buoys, officials said. A boating jetty has been constructed at Kunthukal at ₹5 lakh and the existing jetty at Kurusadai has been revamped at a cost of ₹2 lakh, they said.

The department bought a passenger boat costing ₹12 lakh and two glass bottom boats, each costing ₹10 lakh.

As the tourism in the pristine natural areas should not disturb the biosphere reserve, the department has proposed to allow only around 100 tourists a day from 6 am to 1 pm on first-come-first-served basis.

Bookings would be only online and an exclusive website was being developed, officials said.


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