It looks as if ‘tourism’ is a magic word in the Emerging Kerala investors’ meet, because of its invisible invasion to other sectors, whether it is urban infrastructure development (UID) or ports and shipyard building. Of the 26 sectors in Emerging Kerala, 2012, many projects in the two sectors, tourism and UID have already courted controversy.
Tourism has 18 projects while UID boasts of 25. Though they sound different, the details of the project often merge together as ‘twins separated at birth’. This clearly points out the lack of clarity about the objectives of the initiate. At least five projects worth `225 crore in UID are with an eye on foreign visitors and not aimed at the natives.
The rope way project at Vizhinjam with an estimated cost of `25 crore comes under the UID. The Hilltop development at 10 acres at Ervimanagalam in Perinthalmanna municpality is another example. It says “the municipality proposes to develop the scenic area into an ayurveda resort or heritage village with other amenities to lure tourists.” The island development in Tirur which costs `120 crore also aims at tourism promotion under the pretext of UID. The canal circuit development at North Paravur at a cost of `28.50 crore envisages developing the water frontage of the North Paravur municipality with cascades of water front terminal as a commercial hub. However it is aimed at the inflow of tourists to Cherai beach. It is obvious that the river water front development project at Muzhappilangad at an estimated cost of `20 crore is for the purpose of tourism but it is listed under the UID. Tourism becomes the catch word in ship building too when the project at Poovar is clubbed with a marina.
The contradictions continue with projects like the sports complex at a cost of `25 crore in UID in a land owned by the Health Department near the Leprosy Hospital at Chevayoor in Kozhikode. The idea of setting up an exhibition centre in Thiruvanathapuram in Vellayambalam swimming pool is queer as the promoters forgot the fact that though it is defunct, it is on top of one major water supply pipe line!