Proposed VVIP guest house a breach of Sabarimala masterplan

Last year the Travancore Devaswom Board handed over 20 cents to the Tourism Department to construct the guest house.

Published: 17th October 2017 09:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th October 2017 09:45 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: While the government is all set to lay the foundation stone for Punyadarshanam on Tuesday, the proposed guest house for VIPs and VVIPs at Sabarimala Sannidhanam, there are allegations the construction is in major violation of Sabarimala masterplan and many court orders.Last year the Travancore Devaswom Board handed over 20 cents to the Tourism Department to construct the guest house.

The land which originally belongs to the Forest Department was handed over to the TDB several years ago. The department handed over 250 acres at Nilakkal and about 30 acres inside the Periyar Tiger Reserve to the TDB with a set of pre-conditions. However, the masterplan, which came into existance some time later, laying stress on decongesting Sannidhanam and making use of Nilakkal as base camp, does not support the construction.

Rajan Gurukkal, member of National Tiger Conservation Authority and social science consultant of the eco-development of PTR, also attest to the fact the guest house project violates masterplan and court orders.“The government should strictly enforce the NBWL and MoEF stipulation that development activities must be confined to Nilakkal. Gurukkal, who has studied TDB’s construction in Sabarimala, said already there are many judgments against illegal constructions at Sannidhanam.

Miffed over rampant violations of the masterplan, the Forest Department had time and again raised the issue with the TDB, the government and the high-power committee.  The TDB had submitted an affidavit before the Supreme Court that it would abide by the masterplan.
“Two apex court orders and a letter dated October 24, 2005 of the Central Government and a 2005 GO of the state government and the Supreme Court order I.A.No.1373 in WP (C) No.202 of 1995 have banned diversion of forestland.

It was in the wake of reckless development plans of the TDB, the MoEF got the masterplan prepared and got it enforced by the Supreme Court. In fact, the court has ordered to close down and demolish in due course all guest houses, donated structures and other accommodation buildings at Sannidhanam. In spite of all these now a VIP Guest House is being planned. The court orders have disallowed any more constructions in the enclave,” he said.

TDB president Prayar Gopalakrishnan told Express the issue related to the guest house construction figured in the recent high-power committee meet for the implementation of masterplan. Since the programme has begun, the committee decided to go ahead with the project,” said Prayar.
Meanwhile Forest Minister K Raju told Express that the issue hasn’t come to his attention.

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