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The Preserve Alleppey Project was started by the Lion Ladies Club of Alleppey in 2000. The realization that there was an urgent need to preserve the character of the town was the motivating factor. The potential of tourism could be tapped to achieve this end.
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"Alleppey on Foot'' was the first step. Members acted as voluntary guides on a walk along a canal side street, which has many architecturally interesting buildings. It was decided to adopt this street and showcase it.
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A garbage collection system was introduced on the street. Members did a door-to-door survey to meet residents and enlist their support. A trolley was bought and two women were hired who would collect garbage on a daily basis. Residents paid a monthly service charge. The first official garbage collection in Alleppey started in 2001 and continues to date.
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The canal banks adjoining the street were cleared at the Club's expense and palms were planted. A gardener was employed to maintain it. Later a cleaning drive on either side of the canal was launched on a further one kilometre stretch
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There were limited means at the Club's disposal to fund these projects. The tours and the home cooked lunches that were hosted in member's homes became a source of revenue. Visitors enjoyed interacting with the members and getting an insight into their lives.
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The Society felt that there was a need to demonstrate alternative uses for valuable old buildings so that they would not be mindlessly destroyed. A building in the Gujarathi quarter was restored and a gallery was opened. The Society commissioned photographs of the town as a permanent exhibit. The gallery was later moved to another old building called "CHAVADI". Local crafts are also on display.
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The funds that were raised in 2006 -2007 were donated to a Self Help Women's group that was set up by the local women's college to manufacture paper bags. This would help to reduce the use of plastic.
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The project for 2008- 2009 is to increase the number of tours so that more visitors will see what Alleppey has to offer. To achieve this a training course for guides has been started. An advanced English speaking course has been organized for them. Members of the Society who have been acting as voluntary guides will train and monitor them. Eventually fixed daily tours are planned. This will have the dual advantage of creating job opportunities for the educated, unemployed and making a strong point that Alleppey is well worth preserving and is a tourist attraction in its own right.
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