Alappuzha, Kerala, Aug 5 (UNI) In the wake of the recent serial bomb blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad, strict security measures are in place for the 56th Nehru Boat Race, the biggest water festival in Asia, to be held at the Punnamada Backwaters here on August nine.
The boat race, which is a major tourist draw in Kerala attracting thousands of foreign and domestic visitors, will be held under tight security in view of general terror alert in the country.
The Rapid Action Force, bomb disposal teams and dog squads are already inspecting all the sites. Metal detectors will be installed at Punnamada, Police Superintendent C H Nagaraju said.
The boat race would be inaugurated by Union Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde while Kerala Sports Minister M Vijayakumar will hoist the flag. State Cooperative Minister G Sudhakaran will preside.
The souvenir will be released by State PWD Minister Monce Joseph while Kerala Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran will honour the captains.
Union Cabinet Secretary K N Chandrasekharan, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister TKA Nair and Union Urban Development Secretary M Ramachandran will also attend.
For the first time in the history of the race, the popular 'Chundan' (dragon) boat race, which has so far been the preserve of men, would see women contestants this year.
The Kumarakom Vanitha Boat Club is the sponsor of the women's team which will have 116 oarswomen rowing a steel boat.
However, the oarswomen will be captained by two men-- Mathew Thomas Thachara and Kuruvila Mathai Vilathirat.
The women's team has been practising in the Kumarakom backwaters for the past two days.
UNI XR ARC GM RL RK2008