Thiruvananthapuram: The tourist boat mishap
in Thekkady which claimed at least 25 lives on Wednesday was the
third major water tragedy in Kerala in the last seven years.
On July 27, 2002, twentynine passengers of a ferry met
with watery grave in the Vembanad lake between Muhamma and
More recent one was involving primary school children on
an excursion when their boat sank in a reservouir near
Thattekkad bird sanctuary in Ernakulam district, killing 15
children and three teachers in 2007.
A state endowed with 44 rivers, backwaters and network of
canals, water tourism has of late emerged as a major tourist
attraction in Kerala.
Lush forests of the hilly Thekkadi in the Periyar Tiger
Reserves have always been a major attraction for tourists,
both domestic and foreign.
Located near Mullaperiyar reservoir, wildlife watching
while cruising in the lake is much sought after both by
tourists as well as wildlife enthusiasts.
From the boats, cruisers can sight a wide range of
animals including herds of elephants, deer, boar and bison.
The potential of Thekkadi was first identified by
Europeans, who reared plantations in the nearby hilly areas.
The royal house of Travancore had in early 20th century set
up a Lake palace on the banks of the Periyar, close to the
spot where today`s tragedy happened.
Backwaters and rivers being main sources of
transportation, both human and freight, Kerala had witnessed
several watery mishaps in the early part of the 20th century.
In 1988, the Bangalore-Kanyakumari Island Express
derailed on the Peruman bridge and plunged into Ashtamudi
Lake, killing 105 people while in 2001 Mangalore Mail fell
into Kadalundi river claiming the lives of 50 passengers.
One of the grimmest of the boat mishaps to happen in
Kerala was in 1924 when the great Malayalam poet Kumaran
Asan met with watery grave when the boat he was travelling
at Pallana in the Vembanad lake in January 1924.
Ironically, the boat on which the poet was travelling was