Kumarakom (Ker), Apr 1 (PTI) With welcome drinks in a specially made coconut shell, an eco-friendly conference hall, and a jute textile roof to give shades to G 20 Sherpas walking through the pathways under the scorching sun, Kerala's iconic Kumarakom has shown the world how international conferences could be hosted in a sustainable manner.
"It is so impressive. The setting is magnificent," a foreign delegate told PTI, commenting on the facilities arranged in the exotic backwater resort, on the shores of Vembanad Lake, for hosting the second Sherpa meeting under India's G20 presidency.
The Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC)-owned Waterscapes Resort is located inside the famous Bird Sanctuary here, which draws migratory birds from as far away as Siberia.
He said the interior of the conference room, with its bamboo ceiling, is beautiful.
Other foreign delegates also echoed his views.
"I feel like really integrated in the environment. The site is breathtaking, surrounded by water," a woman delegate from a UN body said, appreciating the way the eco-friendly facilities were arranged in the resort for holding the Sherpa meeting.
KTDC Managing Director V Vigneshwari IAS said the bamboo for fencing sides of roads leading to the resort, jute textiles to cover the top of pathways linking the conference venue and the cottages, and geo textiles to make the canals inside the resort campus attractive were done to showcase Kerala's commitment to the environment.
"It was our own initiative only," she said.
"We wanted to create a good feeling about Kerala and give a sustainable Kerala touch to every interaction. The way of Kerala life... it's all sustainable here", she told PTI.
She said all the materials used for arranging the facilities were sourced locally.
Resort employees said that it was under Vigneshwari's direct leadership the conference hall--a permanent one-- was constructed in 100 days and other eco-friendly facilities were made for holding meetings.
The food and beverages served to the guests also had a Kerala touch.
Welcome drinks--watermelon mint cooler and Ilaneer Vismayam-- were served in specially made coconut shells, and the drinking straws were made out of rice flour.
Delegates were served food on edible biodegradable plates made from wheat bran, and after their use, the plates were used as fertiliser and as feed for poultry and fish.
The delegates said they enjoyed Kerala delicacies like masala grilled prawns, prawns cooked with local spices, duck mappas (a traditional duck curry from Kuttanad), appam, meen pollichathu (fish coated with masala wrapped in banana leaves and cooked), and tender coconut payasam (tender coconut kheer prepared with coconut water and milk).
"I am still getting acquinted with it, but it is absolutely delicious and very amazing," a foreign delegate said.
Another foreign official said the entire atmosphere in Kumarakom helped create a good mood for the Sherpas to discuss the issues with ease at the meeting.
"I can just tell that my G20 Sherpa colleagues are humbled by the magnificence of what your country and the government put together to create a good mood and good chemistry diplomatically," he said.
An Indian government official also commended the Kerala government for its magnificent arrangements for hosting the conference.
Over 120 delegates from G20 member countries, 9 invitee countries, and various international and regional organisations were welcomed to the meeting being held from March 30 to April 02, 2023 and chaired by Indian Sherpa Amitabh Kant.
The formal proceedings were inaugurated by Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan on Friday morning here.
Kumarakom, surrounded by water, was created by the deposition of mud and other materials through natural and man-made methods.
Home to a variety of flora and fauna, the village is one of the world's most favourite tourist spots.