Thiruvananthapuram: A solar energy-driven miniature train, billed as the country's first of its kind, was inaugurated at the Veli Tourist Village here by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday.
The train, which would be an attraction for children especially, was part of a string of projects totally worth Rs 60 crore taken up to elevate the facilities at the panoramic destination to international standards.
Vijayan also dedicated an "Urban Park" and a swimming pool at the eco-friendly tourist village, located on the outskirts of the state capital where the Veli Lake meets the Arabian Sea.
The miniature rail has all the features of a fully- equipped rail system, including a tunnel, station and a ticket office. The train has three bogies that can accommodate around 45 people at a time.
"The eco-friendly solar-powered 2.5 km miniature railway will enable visitors to enjoy the beauty of nature. The Rs ten crore project is the first of its kind in the country," the Chief Minister said in his online address.
Artificial steam spouted by the engine of the train, modeled after the vintage steam locomotive, will stir nostalgic feelings.
The station house was also designed in a traditional style. The surplus energy generated by the system will be routed to the Kerala State Electricity Board's grid, Vijayan said.
A tourist facilitation centre, convention centre and Art Cafe are also to be opened at Veli soon.The convention centre will have an art gallery, digital display facility to feature major tourism and cultural centres of the state and an open air theatre.
These world-class facilities will impart a new look to Veli, the Chief Minister said.
Tourism Minister Kadakampalluy Surendran, who presided, noted the government had allotted around Rs 120 crore for tourism sector. Of these, administrative sanction has been given to Rs 60 crore worth projects at Veli itself.
This showed the governments determination to transform Veli into one of the most attractive destinations for tourists, he said.
Among the projects at Veli, Rs 20 crore worth of works have been completed, and other schemes were progressing, he said adding the tourist facilitation centre will be opened in January.
The urban park entailed a budget of Rs five crore and the swimming pool Rs 2.5 crore.