An overview of all the issues faced in Alleppey. And that's a checkmark in 5 out of the 8 categories on this map!
One of the major attractions to Kerala is the state’s extensive system of backwaters: Venice-like canals, paradise inland lakes and coconut tree swathed islands – an easy place to fall in love with and no wonder then that locals and tourists alike have been enjoying boat tours on these waters for decades.
Years ago, these boats were converted rice barges – small, human-powered, and no more than a few dozen. Nowadays, however, over 1000 houseboats motor the backwaters of Alleppey alone – huge, expensive floating hotels, usually fully air-conditioned, and generally with at least 2 toilets on board.
The islands of Alleppey are home to 2,000 families who used to rely on the lake’s water for all their needs: bathing, washing, fishing and drinking. Drink they can no more, as the content of harmful products from exhausts and sewage dumped in the lake have reached frightening concentrations. They are provided with little water from elsewhere and hence often face shortages of drinking water.
Needless to say, the damage to the ecosystem is also enormous, with several fish species wiped out over the past 10 years and invasive plants covering the canals and most of the lake.
Access to water is not the only issue in this area. Boats docking overnight on the islands create an enormous social tension. Tourists are perceived to invade the villagers' privacy by taking pictures directly in their gardens or through their windows. Children in the villages curiously peak into the boats and witness behaviour far from acceptable in the eyes of their community. Simply put, the villagers feel they have become zoo animals on display for the tourists’ pleasure.
Displacement is also an issue in the area, with huge resorts paying very little money for land on the lake's shore. Access to the lake itself is also often closed off to the fishermen and shell collectors who are hence forced to seek new livelihood options.
For a full understanding of the issues in Alleppey, please read the attached sources.
- Newspaper articles describing some of the issues in Alleppey
- Photo of houseboats roofs
- Photo of boat procession on the lake
- Photo of water lilies and dirty water (these lilies feed on human waste and are currently proliferating on the lake)
- Photo of the entrance of a large houseboat
(Please note: Tourism Concern, Kabani or our partners are not responsible for the content of unverified reports.)