By P.T. Bopanna

Instead of providing basic facilities at tourist spots, the Karnataka government wants to build a heliport in Kodagu (Coorg) district in Karnataka, which would apparently yield commissions and ‘kickbacks’ to ministers and officials.

Karnataka tourism minister C.P. Yogeeshwar has announced that a heliport will be set up in Kodagu under the UDAN scheme of the Union government.

Bhagamandala, a pilgrimage spot which attracts a large number of tourists, does not have adequate infrastructure like a bus-stand, toilets or proper drainage.

Instead of ramping up basic facilities at tourist spots, politicians are only interested in mega projects which would yield kickbacks.

A previous deputy commissioner built a shopping complex at Raja Seat in Madikeri, instead of developing the greenery at the scenic spot. Similarly grotesque structures were built at Talacauvery, the birthplace of river Cauvery. The use of excavators and heavy equipment led to a landslide, killing the priests of the Talacauvery temple last year.

At a time when the district is not able to cope up with the tourist traffic in the week-ends, building a heliport will worsen the situation. Moreover, the completion of the Bengaluru-Mysuru four-laning will bring in more tourists to Kodagu.

With three back to back landslides hitting the district in the last three years, the priority should be to repair the roads and bridges affected by the landslides.

In the circumstances, the government should not go ahead with the heliport project which involves building an airport designed for the use of helicopters.

The announcement by the tourism minister to build restrooms on Hunsur-Sampaje Road, is best left to the private sector as the government agencies are not competent to run such facilities.

The Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants Association president Nagendra Prasad has brought it to the notice of the minister that there is shortage of staff in the tourism department in Kodagu. The government should address this problem, instead of getting involved in high-end projects which would only benefit the real estate mafia.

The Association also brought to the notice of the minister the problem being created by illegal homestays. The government should weed out the illegal homestays which is bringing bad name to tourism in Kodagu.

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