By P.T. Bopanna
In Coorg, the homestay capital of India, homestays located in landslide-prone areas will be out of bounds for tourists till August 31.
In the wake of extensive landslides which devastated large parts of Kodagu (Coorg) last August, experts from Geological Survey of India (GSI) have identified 13 villages as vulnerable to natural calamities. Accordingly, the Kodagu district administration in Karnataka has authorised local authorities to take appropriate precautionary measures, keeping in mind the vulnerability factor.
Reports said that over 21 homestays and one resort have been served with notices by Makkandur Panchayat against operating their guest facilities till August 31, 2019, as the area is prone to landslides. Further, homestays and resort owners have been warned that they will be solely responsible for tourist safety in case of a natural calamity.
A local official was quoted as saying that the closure notices were issued as a precaution to ensure tourists are not put to risk by landslides and roadblocks.
The vulnerable areas identified by the GSI include the villages of Niduvattu, Baribelacchu, Hebbattageri, Devasthooru, Thantipala, Badikeri, Mukkodlu, Meghathalu, Makkandooru, Udayagiri, Katakeri, Made (Jodupala) and 2nd Monnangeri.
The homestay industry has not taken the closure notice kindly because the homestays had suffered huge business losses as tourists stayed away from Kodagu following the unprecedented rains last year.
The homestay owners in the vulnerable areas have urged the authorities to reconsider their order to close the facilities, keeping in mind the fact that large sums had been spent on repairing the damaged facilities. The government had banned tourism in Coorg from August 16 to September 9 last year following a spate of landslides which struck the hill station in August on account of unprecedented rains. Parts of the state highways had been washed away due to landslides.