After 12 tourists were injured when a rope bridge gave way at the Vagamon Adventure Park in Idukki district, the state tourism department has temporarily closed down the park for the public to avoid similar mishaps in the future. The park, which is built near the Vagamon Suicide Point - a popular tourist destination, will remain closed until the ongoing construction activities are completed.
Burma Bridge, an adventure ride at the park, collapsed on Saturday and around 12 tourists, including some students, were injured. According to officials in the tourism department, the tourists had trespassed into the bridge which was not fully functional and was not yet open to the public. Though the construction of the Adventure Park is not yet completed, the tourism department had kept the site open for public, so that tourists could visit the Suicide Point.
‚ÄúNormally, we do not open sites which are under construction for tourists. Since this place has been a very busy tourist destination for the past 10 years and after requests from tourists, we did not close down the site when construction works of the adventure sports rides began,‚ÄĚ KP Nandhakumar, the Joint Director of Department of Tourism, told TNM.
According to the officials, tourists were strictly notified about the rules against using the rides which were not yet operational. ‚ÄúDespite our warning, this team from Angamaly in Kochi climbed the Burma Bridge which resulted in the accident. Luckily, there were no severe causalities,‚ÄĚ Idukki District Tourism Promotion Council secretary Jayan P Vijayan told TNM.
Though officials have maintained that trespassing onto the Burma Bridge caused the mishap, experts have voiced apprehension over the safety of adventure tourism in Kerala.
‚ÄúThere might be many reasons behind this accident. It might be because of agencies managing rides without proper certification, improper construction, or tourists who do not follow the rules. Whatever the case might be, it is clear that there are no proper mechanisms for giving compensation for the victims of these accidents,‚ÄĚ Muralee Thummarukudy, a disaster management expert and the operations manager of Post Conflict and Disaster Management of the United Nations Environment Program, pointed out in a Facebook post. He added that one must have medical insurance before going for adventure tourism in Kerala.
Meanwhile, Nandhakumar has stated that only efficient and experienced agencies who meet all requirements will be allowed to manage the adventure rides.
‚ÄúThere are many hurdles if the department directly chooses to manage it. We might not have required personnel with proper expertise. Moreover, when private agencies are given charge they tend to perform better out of a competition to get selected for tender. This will improve the quality of the management,‚ÄĚ told Nandhakumar to TNM.
The Vagamon Adventure Park is a project being implemented by the state tourism department in association with Kerala Adventure Tourism Promotion Council (KATPC). The adventure park, which began in 2017, is being constructed on land owned by the state tourism department at the scenic village of Kolahalamedu.
Slackline, Tarzan Swing, Double Rope Bridge, Commando Net Climbing, Cargo Net, Rock Climbing and Rock Climbing, are some of the 20 new adventure rides that are being readied at the park. Burma Bridge, which gave way, is one of them.
The location of the park, which spreads over 100 acres of land, is a popular tourist spot with the Vagamon Suicide Point being one of the main attractions. Hindustan Pre Fab Limited, the company which is in charge of the construction at the park, is yet to hand over the park to tourism authorities. The District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) will be in charge of amenities like the shopping complex, whereas the KATPC will be in charge of adventure sports.