Hoteliers and resort owners in the Vizhinjam-Kovalam belt, on the basis of data compiled through RTI Act from the Vizhinjam International Sea Port Limited (VISL), have charged that many a point submitted to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests as justification for the selection of the site to develop the proposed port at Vizhinjam and the impact on tourism are false.
Moreover, while giving the RTI replies, the VISL has accepted that the ‘Erosion study’ and ‘Mathematical modelling long-term shoreline impact study’ have not been completed.
A memorandum submitted to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy the other day by South Kerala Hoteliers’ Forum, Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association and on behalf of 31 big and small beach resorts along the coast has underscored that the VISL management and project consultant L&T Rambol who undertook site selection are found to have engaged in highly questionable actions, including falsifying the actual impact on tourism activity in the located site and understating the actual impact on Kovalam beach.
The memorandum pointed out that the site selection is unacceptable as it understates the impact on tourism by coming up with an assessment that only three resorts will be affected. It fails to assess the shoreline impact upon Kovalam beach which is only about one km north of the port, it has been pointed out.
The impact on tourism from expected erosion and loss of beach resorts is highest in Vizhinjam and not relatively lower as compared to other sites, as stated. Official statistics and data available from the Tourism Department as well as affected tourism stakeholders also shows that loss of natural beaches and beauty will most likely result in complete loss of tourism potential and the total loss of revenue to the state can extend up to Rs 16.6 lakh crores over a period of 30 years. This is many times more than what revenues the port would bring in.
The value of the established infrastructure in Kovalam and Vizhinjam is substantially higher than what is proposed to be invested in the port. The consultant and VISL have also stated that level land area is available, whereas, inland area in the present site is substantially raised and steep with rocky cliffs. The report says that Coastal Regulatory Zone Impact is nil. But the coastline is categorised as CRZ 1 and is prone to high erosion with presence of endangered species. That the impact on ecologically sensitive zones is also zero is a falsification, going by the numerous recordings and publications of endangered species in Mulloor beach and Vizhinjam area, including nesting of endangered sea turtles.