Check the Facebook page, Athirappilly Waterfalls, before you hit the road to this popular eco-tourism destination.

The Kerala Forest Department has started uploading pictures of the waterfall on its Facebook page. Pictures taken from the same spot, round the week, will be updated before 8 a.m. every day.

The photo update is being tried out as an interactive facility to inform tourists about the status of the waterfall, which attracts tourists in large numbers, explained forest officials.

The waterfall at Athirappilly is one of the key attractions of the tourism programme here.

A timely update about the waterfall would help the visitors plan their trip and avoid inconvenience. The programme is aimed at confining eco-tourism activities to Vazhachal and leave the pristine forest area beyond the point untouched, explained S.V. Vinod, Divisional Forest Officer, Vazhachal.

Last year, the twin eco-tourism centres together attracted around 13 lakh visitors from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

The forest route that begins from Athirappilly-Vazhachal area and runs through Malakkapara is also one of the favourite routes of bikers.

Plastic ban

Discarded drinking water bottles continue to be a major ecological hazard. Large quantities of plastic bottles are collected from here. The department plans to supply purified drinking water free of cost to the visitors from a water treatment plant to be set up shortly.

The free supply of water will end the practice of taking plastic bottles inside the forest route. The department will forgo the revenue from the sale of plastic bottles for the sake of environment, said Mr. Vinod.

The department began a drive to free the tourism zone of plastic on Saturday. The two shops run by the Forest Department have started supplying various products, including food stuff in paper covers. If the visitor insists on getting the goods in plastic cover, he will be charged an additional fee of Rs. 10 for every product packed in plastic packets. The fee will be reimbursed once they return the empty cover.

The traders in the area too have agreed to the idea of moving to eco-friendly practices, he said. Littering will be dealt with sternly and the violators will be fined, he said.

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