Alappuzha, Aug 12: The 6th Nehru Trophy Boat Race was inaugurated on Saturday by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The fest, keenly followed by Malayalis in Kerala and across the world, would feature the participation of a record 78 boats this year. A total of 22 chandan valiums, or snake-boats, would be participating in the initial five heats.

Following the outcome of the five heats, the qualifying boats would be participating in the finals and losers’ finals. The race is being telecasted live by Doordarshan Kerala, and its live commentary being aired periodically on the All India Radio. For live streaming, users can visit http://webcast.gov.in/nehrutrophy.

The race commenced today at 11 AM, with the contest between small category boats featuring first. 5 Iruttukhi A grade boats and 25 Irrutukhi B grade boats participated in the initial round, along with 9 Veppu A grade and 6 Veppu B grade boats, as per reports.

For women participants, the contest was opened up in the Thara and Kettuvalom categories.

According to reports, nearly one lakh people turned up at the Punnamada lake’s spectators’ pavilion to witness the Nehru Boat Trophy. Nearly 2,000 police personnel were deployed in Alappuzha to prevent any untowards incident. Police constables in large numbers were stationed at Punnamada lake to oversee the smooth conduct of the festival. Nearly 40 boats have been assigned for use by police officials.

CCTV cameras, along with shadow police personnel are also deployed in the town to keep check on criminal activities including eve-teasing, molestation and robbery.