NGO expresses concern over tourism Bill

12 July 2010
Equations, a research, campaigning and advocacy organisation, has expressed concern over the Kerala Tourism (Conservation & Preservation of Areas) Amendment Bill 2010 on the grounds that it will usurp the powers and mandate of local self-governing institutions.
In a letter to Governor R.S. Gavai, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and Subject Committee members that was released here on Saturday, the Bangalore-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) said the development authorities that had been proposed to replace the tourism committees in the Bill clearly bypassed the constitutional mandate and the provisions of the Kerala Panchayati Raj Act 1994.
It was pointed out that Article 243 G and Article 243 W of the Constitution delegate the responsibility with respect to preparation of plans for economic development and social justice and implementation of schemes for the purpose to the local bodies.
The tourism industry relied on natural resources and services that fall under the jurisdiction of panchayats. Hence, it was important that the local panchayats and municipalities were involved in regulating tourism developments at the local level. Transferring this regulatory role to a parastatal body implied loss of democratic exercise of powers by the local bodies, the NGO said in the letter.
It said the constitution of the development authorities would lead to substitution of the general planning process in favour of tourism-related development.
According to the Bill, the State Tourism Development Authority will have the right to modify the development plans of the regions that are declared Special Tourism Zones.
Equations said tourism development should only be a subset of the general planning processes. The master plan of any area had the mandate of overall development of the area and tourism should not dictate the development process, it said.
Kerala Vision Document 2025, developed by the State Tourism Department, specifically acknowledged that the participation of local self-government institutions and NGOs were necessary for tourism development. The Kerala Tourism Act 2005 and the Kerala Tourism Ordinance and the Kerala Tourism Amendment Bill 2010 undermined these principles of public participation in tourism development, it was pointed out.