Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala's acclaimed elephant rehabilitation centre at nearby Kottoor is set to become the largest care-and-cure centre for pachyderms in the world with upgraded features and facilities.
The existing jumbo care centre at Kottoor, located over 25 kmsaway from the capital city, is being upgraded to international standards as part of the state government's special programme for the protection and conservation of elephants.
The facility is upgraded with an aim to give the elephants that come to the rehabilitation centre a natural ecosystem just like in the forest, official sources said.
The first phase of the Centre, where upgradations initiatives are being implemented at a cost ofRs108 crores with funding from Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB),would be commissioned in February 2021.
Spread in 176 hectares of forest land, the centre, known for its lush greenery, has facilities to accommodate 50 elephants including the existing 16 jumbos.
A total ofRs 71.9 crores were spent on the construction work of the first phase of the project that began in 2019, they said.
Being upgraded with extensive facilities, it will have 50 elephant habitats, (enclosures) specially enclosed by steel poles and nets to house jumbos in their natural habitat.
Of these, 35 would be completed in the first phase and the rest in the second phase, sources said.
It will also include the construction of various reservoirs and check dams at the Neyyar Dam and also special facilities for the care of elephant calves.
The upgraded centre would also have an elephant museum, a veterinary hospital with super speciality facilities, a study and research centre for nature lovers and students, a training centre for mahouts, an entrance plaza, an administrative office, parking for visitors, a cafeteria, cottages, a toilet block and a special elephant viewing facility.
A post-mortem facility and a cemetery are being set up as part of the project.
A large kitchen for cooking food for the elephants, a spacious separate area for feeding them and a facility for the public to view the elephants at a safe distance would be additional features, they said.
The project envisages a large convention centre, an amphitheatre, aunit for making paper from elephant dung and a system for producing biogas from waste would be set up here.
Special facilities would be provided for collection and disposal of solid wastes including non-recyclable plastics.
A liquid waste treatment plant is also part of the project.
With the completion of the project, more than 250 people would be employed every day and of these 100 would be elephant herders, an official statement said.
A total of 40 people would be accommodated with their families and 40 would be provided with dormitory facilities as part of the project.
The project is also expected to generate job opportunities also for the locals.
Tribals living in the nearby forest areas would be given priority in the employment at the centre.
With the completion of the project, Kottur is also expected to become a major tourist destination here and will see a huge leap in the tourism sector in general as more than 3.5 lakh people, including half a lakh tourists from overseas, are expected to visit the Centre every year.
Tourism projects of the Forest department and the Water Resources department in the Neyyar Dam area would also be developed along with this project, the statement added.