Alappuzha: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will inaugurate the latest edition of the Nehru Trophy boat race at Punnamada Lake here at 2 pm on Sunday.
Before hoisting the festival flag, he will offer floral tributes to the statue of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister.
Ministers PA Muhammad Riyas, KN Balagopal, K Rajan, P Prasad and Roshy Augustine and all legislators from the Alappuzha district will be present for the ceremony.
Twenty snake boats will compete for the coveted trophy and the heats will start at 11 am.
There would be competitions in nine categories for which 77 boats, including 20 snake boats (chundan vallams), have registered.
The heat rounds will be conducted with four teams each and the top four teams recording the fastest timings will compete in the finals.
The Nehru Trophy will be presented to the snake boat that wins the final race, which would be held at 5 pm.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) will conduct a band performance and helicopter fly-past as part of the boat race, said authorities.
A team from IAF’s publicity cell will also take part in the race.
Entry only with passes
Sub Collector Suraj Shaji and the secretary of Nehru Trophy Boat Race Society (NTBRS), said that only people carrying passes would be allowed entry to the venue.
“Tickets with holograms prepared by C-DIT have been issued. People without these passes and those carrying fake tickets will not be allowed inside.
Strict action will be taken against those attempting unauthorized entry through boats,” he added.
People who booked online tickets should collect physical tickets from the facilitation counter for entering the pavilion and gallery.
Spectators leaving the venue before the race ends will not be allowed entry again, officials informed.
Meanwhile, the Kerala Water Transport Department has arranged boats for spectators leaving Nehru Pavilion after the boat race.
Traffic regulations in Alappuzha
The authorities have imposed traffic regulations in Alappuzha town today in view of the Nehru Trophy boat race.
Parking will not be allowed on the roadside from the northern side of General Hospital Junction to Kaichoondi Junction and Kommady Junction.
Moreover, all traffic has been banned from 7 am to 7 pm along the roads from District Court North Junction eastwards to Thathampally Kayal Kurissady Junction.
Similarly, no vehicles, except KSRTC buses, will be allowed from YMCA South Junction towards the east till the Fire and Rescue Services station.
Authorities have also announced the places where vehicles carrying spectators could be parked.
People arriving from the Thanneermukkom side should park vehicles on SDV School ground.
Those travelling from the Ernakulam side have to take the Kommady Savakottapalam North Junction route and reach the SDV School ground for parking.
At the same time, spectators from the Kaithavana direction have to park vehicles at Carmel, St Antony’s School ground.
Tight security during event
Over 2,000 police personnel, including 20 DySPs, 50 Inspectors and 465 sub-inspectors will be deployed under the District Police Chief G Jayadev as part of the security arrangements for the Nehru Trophy boat race. Punnamada and nearby areas will be divided into 15 sectors for the purpose, said Jayadev.
Security arrangements would include water ambulances, he said. In addition, personnel belonging to Special Striking Force and Shadow Police will be present among the spectators in the galleries to keep a check on people engaging in anti-social activities, pickpockets and drunkards. Parking of boats will not be allowed near the tracks. Drones too cannot be deployed without permission from the police.
“We have arranged video surveillance facilities to check violations of rules by boats participating in the event.
People wading into the waters or swimming in order to disrupt the race will be arrested,” said the police chief.
Action will be taken against motor boats, houseboats and other vessels parked without permission in the Punnamada Lake from the north side of Nehru Pavilion to Dock Chira.
A specific fee has to be paid at Revenue Divisional Office, Alappuzha to watch the boat race by parking boats along this stretch.
No other boats other than those participating in the race will be allowed along the tracks after 8 am on September 4, the police chief said.
A green protocol will be followed during the event. No plastic bottles or other items should be dumped into the canal, said, officials.
Whopping ticket sales have been witnessed for the Nehru Trophy boat race, said Alappuzha District Collector V R Krishna Teja.
“Offline tickets worth Rs 25 lakh were sold till Saturday evening, while online ticket sales stood at Rs 10 lakh,” he said.
The total online sales last year amounted to a mere Rs 3 lakh, he pointed out.
“Most of the online tickets are being purchased by people in other states. We are targeting total offline and online sales of Rs 50 lakh this year,” the Collector said.
Incidentally, bookings from abroad have fallen this time. Meanwhile, tourist arrivals in the resorts and houseboats in Alappuzha have gone up.