S. Anil Radhakrishnan
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Local Self-Government Department has directed the Kumbalangi panchayat near Kochi to cancel the building permits granted by it for constructing tourist resort in Kumbalangi, the country’s first model tourist village.
In a directive to the panchayat, the department stated that the building permits issued on March 3, 2007, to construct resort in survey numbers 422, 425 and 427, flouted rules. The department asked the panchayat authorities to cancel the permits.
The Kumbalangi panchayat has since cancelled the permits, official sources said. However, the LSG directive is silent on other two survey numbers, 424 and 429 which are under the possession of a private group. The issue of illegal reclamation of backwaters and Pokkali fields at Kumbalangi was taken up by EQUATIONS, a non-profit organisation set up for research, training and promotion of holistic tourism.
The panchayat had given the green signal for the construction of 56 cottages perched on pillars set in water bodies. The construction of the resorts was taken up by Poppys Inn Private Limited.
Earlier this year, EQUATIONS had pointed out in a letter to Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan that huge areas of the water body were being reclaimed for promotion of tourism in Kumbalangi.
Meanwhile, the construction of ‘Kalagramam’ taken up as part of the Endogenous Tourism project has run into controversy. The panchayat partially reclaimed four acres of backwaters in 2005 to create an island in the middle of the backwaters for ‘Kalagramam’.
‘EQUATIONS’ had objected to the construction of ‘Kalagramam’ by reclaiming the backwaters.
The reclamation of backwaters for the construction of ‘Kalagramam’ did not comply with the principles of Endogenous Tourism Project, it has been pointed out.
The Centre had allocated Rs.2 crore for the project. The work had been suspended for the last four months.