Thiruvananthapuram–Engineer turned passionate lover of nature and creator of an unique agricultural theme park in Kottayam is in dire straits on account of the raging pandemic and he is knocking on all doors for help to ensure that his creation is not taken away by the bank.
N.K. Kurian was an engineer in the Middle East when he decided to set up an agriculture theme park in his home village at Kaduthuruthy in Kottayam in 2005. He brought a 4.5 acre land and started work on his dream project.
By 2008, he acquired more land and finally after years of hard work he opened Mango Meadows in a 30 acre land in 2018.
The vast expanse of his park includes five ponds which sustain 64 species of fishes, 4,800 varieties of trees, cottages for tourists to reside besides all the latest equipment for kids to spend their time playing.
Kurian, who is the managing director of the farm, has invested Rs 120 crore, which includes a Rs 13 crore bank loan.
Speaking to IANS, Kurian said right from the start, he has had a roller-coaster turn of events.
“We opened in 2018 and soon came the massive floods and his entire park was submerged under water for a month. We recovered smartly from it and in the first year itself we earned a revenue of Rs 8 crore and the next year also the floods came, but our revenues swelled to Rs 11 crore,” said Kurian.
As Kurian was moving at a brisk pace came the Covid pandemic and after that for the past nearly 16 months it has been a grave period for him and today he is knocking on all doors seeking help.
“The Rs 13 crore loan taken from a private bank following the closing down of the park due to Covid has swelled up to Rs 25 crore. By now I have knocked on all doors and am waiting for a reply from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan as I have sought a takeover of my loan by any of the State financial organisations,” said Kurian.
Kurian’s park provides employment to 300 people of which 100 of them are guides.
“During the pandemic I asked my employees to take turns and come for the upkeep of the farm. Every month I incur an expense of around Rs 7 lakh and that’s how my loan has touched Rs 25 crore now. I am very confident that I will be able to payback if the situation changes and visitors return,” added Kurian.
In the few months that the park was open, he has bagged a handful of awards which include the Kerala Forest department, Limca Book of Records and the URF World Records for his park.
“I have been invited by the Gujarat government to set up a similar park there,” added Kurian.
Kurian said if there is going to be any more delay in opening up the tourism sector, things can go from bad to worse not just for him, but for the industry which fetches Rs 46,000 crore annually where 1.5 million people are directly and indirectly employed.
Meanwhile, State Tourism Minister P.A. Mohammed Riyaz on Thursday interacted with various stake holders in the tourism industry and assured them that as and when the vaccination drive in the tourism sector is completed, all tourism centres would be opened in phases. (IANS)