Parassala: Poovar in Thiruvananthapuram is famous for its scenic backwaters and serene beaches. A boat cruise through the exotic mangroves hosting numerous rare bird species is scintillating and is a must-do thing in the itinerary of tourists.
However, with the rise in visitors this summer, there are complaints of private operators fleecing them, often charging ten times the original ticket fare. Some of the clubs are charging up to Rs 9500 for eight persons availing one-and-a-half hours boat ride.
The failure of authorities to regulate and standardize the ticket rates are leading to daylight robbery, sources said.
The boat owners, though, cite they have to dole out up to 60 percent commission to agents and drivers of tourist buses, which is why they were charging the high rates.
However, those arriving with families are also forced to cough up the same rates. Following widespread complaints, the police set up signboards, indicating the normal rate of Rs 2500 for two persons for a one-and-a-half-hour ride, in certain areas of the tourist spot. However, a majority of boat owners are not willing to slash the exorbitant fares. There are also complaints that they skip the areas where the police set up such sign boards.
Even the rate of Rs 2500 notified by the police is exorbitant, points out trade union organizations active in the boating sector. The boat services being conducted under the trade unions in Poovar charge only Rs 800 for a one-hour trip.
A few days ago, visitors lodged complaints with the police, citing that they were being fleeced and charged Rs 9500 for a one-and-a-half hour boating. However, the sources said the cops refuse to interfere since the higher officers in the district are being extended free boat rides during their visits here.
Meanwhile, many of the services are operated with boats having no proper documents like fitness and registration certificates.
Demands have long been arising from several quarters of the need for the authorities, especially the panchayat and the District Tourism Promotion Council, to regulate and standardize the boating ticket rates in Poovar, and lure more tourists to the spot, which leads the tourism map of the entire district.