A BRIEF HISTORY
The Portuguese were the first Europeans to establish a trading centre at Kollam in 1502 A.D. Then came the Dutch followed by the British in 1795 AD A British garrison was stationed at Kollam in pursuance of a treaty between Travancore and the British.
Velu Thampi Dalawa of Travancore did much for the improvement of Kollam town. He built new bazars and invited merchants from Madras and Tirunelveli to settle here. Kollam later became the capital of the enlightened and liberal rulers of Desinganad . It was also the nerve centre of the rebellion organised by Velu Thampi against the British.
Once a city of palaces, Kollam has been known to the outside world, by the time honoured proverb, "Once you have seen Kollam you would no more need your illam ( home )".
TOPOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
The district is situated on the south west coast of India. It extends from latitude 9° 28' N to 8° 45' and longitude 76° 28' to 77° 17' N. The district is bound on the north by Alappuzha district, north east by the Pathanamthitta district, on the east by Thirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, on the south by Thiruvananthapuram district and on the west by the Arabian Sea. The area of the district 2,492 sq. kms. And in area the district ranks seventh in the State.
Two rivers, Kallada and Ithikkara, flow through this district. The Sasthamcotta lake, the only major fresh water lake in the State, is here. Two other major lakes are the Ashtamudi kayal and the Paravoor kayal. Edava and Nadayara kayals lie partly in this district.
The district has a tropical humid climate, with an oppressive summer and plentiful seasonal rainfall. The hot season, lasting from March to May, is followed by the south west monsoon from June to September. The north east monsoon occurs from October to November. The rest of the year is generally dry.
The area under forest in Kollam district is 81438 ha. and it falls in Thenmala, Punalur and a portion of Achencoil forest division. Thenmala Range, Aryankavu Range and Shendurney Sanctuary Constitute the Thenmala division. Achencoil Range, Kallar Range and Kanayar Range, make up the Achencoil division while Punalur division includes Pathanapuram and Anchal Ranges. Teak and softwood form the major forest plantations in the district.
The district is immensely rich in mineral resources. The beach sands of the district have concentrations of heavy minerals like Ilmenite, Rutile, Monosite and Zircon which offer scope of exploitation for industrial purpose.
Besides large deposits of China clay in Kundara, Mulavana and Chathannoor, there are also lime shell deposits in Ashtamudi lake, Bauxite deposits in Adichanallur and disseminated graphite in Punalur.
Sex ratio (defined as the number of females per 1000 males) shows a fluctuating trend from decade to decade. Taking the population in the district as a whole in 1941, 1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001, females outnumber males. In all other decades there was a ponderance of males over females. According to the 1991 census there are 1043 females for every 1000 males, while it was 1022 in 1981 census. According to 2001 census the sex ratio of Kollam is 1070.
The density of population of the district has increased from 871 persons per sq. km. in 1981 to 963 in 1991. The total population of the district according to 2001 census is 2,584,118 and population density is 1037.
According to 1991 census, this district had a literacy rate of 90.47% against 72.95% in 1981. It was 64.97% in 1971. And according to 2001 census it is 91.49%.
The history of the district as an administrative unit can be traced back to 1835, when the Travancore State consisted of two revenue divisions with headquarters at Kollam and Kottayam. At the time of the integration of Travancore and Cochin in 1949, Kollam was one of the three revenue divisions in the state. These three revenue divisions were converted into districts. Shencottah taluk was merged with Madras State consequent on the implementation of the State Reorganisation Act of 1956.
When Alappuzha district was formed in 1957, Chertala, Ambalapuzha, Mavelikkara, Karthikappally, Chengannur and Thiruvalla taluks of Kollam district were united to the new district. When Pathanamthitta district was formed on 1st July 1983, the entire Pathanamthitta taluk and nine villages of Kunnathur Taluk of the district were also removed. Now the district has a single revenue division with headquarters at Kollam. Pathanapuram, Kunnathur, Kottarakkara, Karunagappally and Kollam are the five taluks in the district. The district is divided into thirteen development blocks. Kollam, Paravoor and Punalur are the three municipal towns.
The district has a prominent place in the field of agriculture. The total extent of land under cultivation is 2,18,267 hectares. The principal crops are paddy, tapioca, coconut, rubber, pepper, banana, mango and cashew. About 70 per cent of the work force is engaged in agriculture.
Coconut gardens extend to about 75,454 hectares. About three hundred and forty three million coconuts are produced every year. The five major crops: paddy, tapioca, coconut, rubber, pepper - are cultivated in an area of 1,73,847 hectares. Small and marginal farmers constitute more than 95% of the farming community and the average per family holding is 0.21 hectare. All the 71 panchayats of the district are covered by separate Krishi Bhavans.
There is an oil palm plantation at Bharatheepuram near Anchal, in an area of 4000 hectares, under the Oil Palm India Ltd., a state government undertaking.
The rehabilitation plantations, another State Government undertaking, is located at Kulathupuzha near Thenmala.
With two rivers, the district is endowed with perennial supply of water. In order to augment the irrigation potential, several plans were evolved during 1953 to undertake river basin schemes. Kallada Irrigation Project, the biggest multipurpose project, undertaken by the State Government, is intended to utilise the water of Kallada river, mainly for irrigation purpose in Kollam, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha districts. There is also a proposal to generate 50 M.W. of electricity from the dam at Thenmala. The Kallada project comprises of a masonary dam of 335 m. in length with a maximum height of 81 m. at Parappur in Thenmala across the river to form a reservoir, a pick up weir and sluices at Ottakkal. The 69 kms. right bank canal and the 57.75 kms. left bank canal take off from the pickup weir. It is estimated that the two canals together will serve an area of 68,000 hectares. The projects are aided by the World Bank.
Improvement of Perumkulam yelah in Kollam taluk, West Kallada Scheme in Kunnathur taluk, reclamation of Polachiral lake in Kollam taluk and Ithikkara yelah schemes, are the medium irrigation schemes in the district.
While major and medium irrigation schemes are being taken up by the State Government directly, individual minor irrigation schemes, viz., dug-wells, bore-wells, tube- wells, pump sets, drip and sprinkler irrigation systems are being financed by commercial co-operative banks.
Kollam district ranks first in livestock wealth in the State. Dairy farming is fairly well developed. There are 3.12 lakh milch cattle (1987-88 livestock census). A network of one district veterinary centre, 2 polyclinics, 48 veterinary dispensaries, 14 veterinary hospitals; and 167 artificial insemination centres, cater to the needs of the district. The number of cows increases annually by five per cent. There are about 65 milk producers co-op. societies and three chilling plants. The chilling plants are located at Kollam, Kottarakkara and Yeroor. The milk producers co-op. societies handle about 3.34 lakh litres per day. The Kerala Livestock and Dairy Development Board has a master plan to increase dairying. In poultry, the district stands third and there is great scope for developing broiler and layer poultry farms. The district is covered by the Integrated Dairy Development Project. 'Mini-Dairy' Special Project is under implementation, sponsored jointly by MILMA and NABARD.
Kollam is an important maritime district of the state with a coast line of 37.3 kms. Fishing has a prominent place in the economy of the district. Neendakara and Sakthikulangara villages thrive in fishing. An estimated number of 23,000 persons are engaged in fishing and allied activities. Cheriazheekkal, Alappad, Pandarathuruthu, Puthenthura, Neendakara, Thangasseri, Eravipuram and Paravoor are eight among the 26 important fishing villages. There are 24 inland fishing villages also. Considering the unique location and infrastructure available, the Government has initiated steps for establishing a fishing harbour at Neendakara which is expected to augment fish production by 15%. Average fish landing is estimated to be 85,275 tonnes per year. One third of the state's fish catch is form Kollam.
There are 93 producer co-operatives, two credit cooperatives and one marketing cooperative in the fisheries sector. There are 38 Fishermen Development Welfare Cooperative Societies in the district. Nearly 3000 mechanised boats are operating from the fishing harbour. FFDA and VFFDA are promoting fresh water fish culture and prawn farming respectively. A model fishing village with 100 houses is coming up at Eravipuram. A model prawn farm is coming up at Ayiramthengu and a few new hatcheries are also coming up to cater to the needs of the aquaculturists. About 60% of the production of prawn in the state is from this district.
There are 17 large, and one medium scale industries in the district, of which, two are Central Government undertakings i.e., the Indian Rare Earths, Chavara and Parvathi Mills Ltd., Kollam.
Kerala Ceramics Ltd., Kundara, Travancore Plywood Industries, Punalur, Kerala Electrical and Allied Engineering Company, Kundara, Kerala Premo Pipe factory Chavara, Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited, Chavara, United Electrical Industries Kollam and the Kerala Agro-Fruit Products, Punalur are Kerala Government owned companies. Other major industries in private/cooperative sector are Aluminium Industries Ltd., Kundara, Thomas Stephen & Co., Kollam, Floorco Paravur, Cooperative Spinning Mill, Chathannur and Punalur Paper Mills, Punalur. About 1963 SSI units have been registered in the district.
Cashew processing and coir production are also major industrial vocations of the district. Handloom industry, clay and wood based industries also contribute to the industrial advancement of the region.
Cashew: Cashew processing is a major industrial activity in the district. The Kerala State Cashew Development Corporation (KSCDC) is the largest processor of cashewnut in the world. At present, it has 34 factories. K.S.C.D.C. provides employment to more than 26,000 workers.
Railways: The district is covered by 132 kms. Of railway line, of which 51 kms. are broad guage and 81 kms., metre gauge. There are 22 railway stations of which 9 are on broad gauge line and 13, on the metre gauge line. Kollam is an important railway junction. The Trivandrum-Ernakulam (via Kottayam and Alappuzha) line pas through Kollam. Kollam is the terminal junction of Madras - Egmore - Kollam metre gauge line.
Road Transport: Kollam has a total 1552.096 kms. Of roads. The National Highway 47 covers a distance of 57.4 kms. in the district. The State Highway namely, Main Central Road, Kollam-Shencottah Road and Punalur-Pala-Muvattupuzha (Main Eastern Highway) with a total length of 266.52 kms. also networks the district.
Water Transport: The Water Transport Department operates boat services to Muthiraparamb (West Kallada), Guhanandapuram, Ayiramthengu, Munrothuruthu and Alappuzha. The Alappuzha service opens a vast vista of tourist attraction. A full day onboard journey through the backwaters provides an opportunity to witness the natural life of the people around and the scenic beauty of the place. Luxury boats, both of the Government and private parties, operate from the main boat jetty during the season. The west coast canal system, which starts from Thiruvananthapuram in the south and ends at Hosdurg in the north, passes through Kollam and Karunagappally taluks. The Thiruvananthapruam-Shornur canal, which forms part of the above system, runs a distance of about 62 kms. The other canal are Paravur canal, Kollam canal and Chavara canal. The water transport department of the state, transports over 70,000 passengers.
Port: Neendakara and Kollam are the two ports in the district, the former, an intermediary and the latter, a minor port. Port operations are carried out through Neendakara.
Post & Telegraph: There are 4 head post offices, 98 sub post offices, 190 branch post offices and 52 E.D. post offices in the district. The number of telegraph officers is 140 and that of telephone exchanges is 71. The central telegraph office is at Chinnakkada.
Mass Communication: There are a number of daily newspapers published from this district of which, Kerala Kaumudi, Malayala Manorama and Mathrubhumi are morning dailies and Kerala Rajyam, Vartha Rahasyam, Sayanha Sabdam, Kerala Malar, Jayasoorya, Prasanthi, Thrikonam, Citizen Times, Yuva Express, Nattu Vartha and Rashtra Deepika are evening dailies. Kumari, Kumkumam, Kerala Sabdam and Nana ar e weeklies and Mahilaretnam, Kasturi, Chithra Katha (Malayalam and Tamil) and Career, are the monthlies published from this district.
Kollam, the capital of the erstwhile Venad, was a great centre of learning and culture. It attracted distinguished scholars from all parts of South India. Leelathilakam and Unnuneelisandesam , two outstanding literary works of historical importance, are contributions of 14th Century Kollam. The dance form of Kathakali in its new version of Ramanattam was the creation of Kottarakkara Thampuran, who also improved Krishnattam by substituting Malayalam for Sanskrit.
Paravoor K.C.Kesava Pillai, a gifted poet, prose writer, dramatist and scholar, originated the musical play in Malayalam through his work Sadarma . His Kesaveeyam , a Mahakavyam, is of outstanding literary importance. In the history of Malayalam music, he has a prominent place as a gifted composer of songs. Paravoor Kesavan Asan, the founder editor of Sujanandini , another prominent literary figure, was a journalist and a prose writer of eloquence. His Saratchandrika is a contribution to the study of Ayurvedic system of medicine E.V.Krishna Pillai, another literary celebrity has etched his name in the field of humour and satire. C.V.Kunjuraman, editor of Kerala Kaumudi and Malayalarajyam was a poet, literary critic, prose writer and a journalist of outstanding distinction.
Coming to modern times, Elamkulam Kunjan Pillai and Soornadu Kunjan Pillai, noted literary historians and poets like O.N.V. Kurup, Thirunallur Karunakaran, Punalur Balan, novelist and poet Lalithambika Antharjanam are some of the literary luminaries hailing from this district.
Leaders like T.M.Varghese, C.Kesavan, Kumbalathu Sanku Pillai, N.Sreekantan Nair, R.Shankar and C.M.Stephen who played prominent roles in shaping the socio-political destiny of the State, are also from this district. The district gave birth to well known freedom fighters like Chandiran Kali Ambi (Kadakkal Manthri) and Franco Raghavan Pillai.