Erosion of nature's jagged masonry continues - The New Indian Express

Erosion of nature's jagged masonry continues

Published: 12th October 2013 08:11 AM

Last Updated: 12th October 2013 08:11 AM

Visitors have begun pouring into Varkala with the beginning of the tourism season but efforts to check the erosion in the Varkala cliffs, one of the two big draws for tourists here, have reached nowhere.

“Last month, the district administration had clamped prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC to check human-induced destruction of the cliffs but natural erosion of the laterite formation is still continuing,” local people said.

Small-scale illegal constructions such as steps to the beach from the resorts and pumping of waste water can still be noticed.

Varkala finds a significant position on the tourism map because of cliffs - a rare sedimentary formation and the popular Papanasam Beach.

Varkala Kahar MLA attributed the landslips on the cliff to activities such as encroachments, illegal constructions and vehicles moving over it.

A committee of experts from the Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS), Geological Survey of India (GSI) and Tourism visited the cliff under the leadership of the District Collector.

“The district administration had issued the prohibitory orders after inspections to freeze further constructions in this geographically delicate zone,” he said.

2012 had witnessed a number of announcements meant to save the formation from destruction.

A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) was set up for Varkala under the State Government for the overall development of tourism and infrastructure development.

This was followed by an announcement by the Chief Minister that the cliff and the environs of the Varkala beach would be declared a National Geopark, the first of its kind in India, under the GSI.

UNESCO runs a Global Geopark programme so as to preserve certain geographically sensitive zones. Geoparks are places where rare geological landforms are preserved intact and with restricted human activities.

V Ramachandran Potty, special officer of the SPV said that the transformation from the present scenario to a Geopark would never affect the existing constructions or human settlements near the cliff.

“It will not permit further constructions along the cliff. Geopark will definitely encourage tourism by bringing in geo-tourists too,” Ramachandran said.

But there are other factors too that are affecting tourism in Varkala. Varkala ward councillor Sunil V said that the major threat here was waste management.

“The hoteliers should be given strict instructions on zero waste management. The law is different for different people at the beach. The government itself is violating the Coastal Protection Act by constructing a ‘bali mandapam’ which can accommodate only a small percentage of the crowd which come or ‘bali tharpan’. The tides are now hitting the construction which obviously questions its strength,” Sunil said.

He said that this mandapam will become an idle hangout for the drunkards, anti-social elements and even dogs at night.

Lack of toilets, cloak rooms, stray dog menace, fleecing by traders and harassment by anti-social elements, mostly late in the evenings, are all affecting the tourism sector here.

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