By P.T. Bopanna
The Kodagu (Coorg) district administration in Karnataka is indulging in flip-flops on the issue of keeping tourists out of bounds in areas prone to landslides this monsoon, thereby compromising the safety of tourists visiting the hill station.
In the wake of extensive landslides which devastated large parts of Kodagu last August, experts from Geological Survey of India (GSI) had identified 13 villages as vulnerable to natural calamities.
A few days ago, the Kodagu deputy commissioner Annies Kanmani Joy (in picture) was quoted as saying that the district administration has authorised local authorities to take appropriate precautionary measures, keeping in mind the vulnerability factor.
Following the arm-twisting by the powerful resorts lobby in Kodagu, the Makkandur gram panchayat development officer who had issued directions to homestays and resorts in his jurisdiction against accepting bookings till August 31, has withdrawn the directive.
It may be recalled that Makkandur was one of the worst affected areas in last year’s natural calamity and suffered extensive damage due to landslides.
Reports said the Makkandur panchayat official wrote to the president, Homestays’ Association, Kodagu, informing he had withdrawn the directive against accepting bookings. Further, he asked the Association members to take all necessary precautions if the intensity of rains goes up in the coming days.
According to reports, the members of the tourism industry met the Kodagu DC on Monday and complained that many tourists cancelled their bookings fearing for their safety.
EDITORIAL: The Kodagu DC should get her priorities right. The first and foremost is the safety of the tourists and the local residents. The Makkandur panchayat official had taken the decision to issue notice for closure till August 31, based on the GSI report which had identified 13 villages in Kodagu as vulnerable to natural calamities.
The Kodagu DC should not yield to various lobbies with hidden agendas. Most of the resorts in Kodagu are backed by politicians.
The first and foremost is to ban tourist activities in areas identified by the GSI as vulnerable to landslides. If the DC fails to act decisively, she has to take the responsibility in the event of any tragedy.