The 150-crore eco-resort project at Karapuzha envisaged in the ‘Emerging Kerala 2012’ has drawn flak from environmentalists and tribal and farmers’ welfare organisations in the district.
They warned that the government, which has not learnt any lessons from the flopped Karapuzha irrigation project, will have to face the wrath of the people if it plans to go ahead with the new venture. The site, which comes under the purview of the Irrigation Department, is an eco-fragile zone and there has been a proposal to limit the entry to the dam site.
Also, the Kerala Irrigation Infrastructure Development Corporation has been pursuing own tourism development plans suitable for the area. According to the official website of Emerging Kerala 2012, the government has invited investors to set up an eco-tourism project at Karapuzha that includes a three-star resort, convention centre, auditorium/theatre/ banquet hall, business centre and a helipad at a cost of `150 crore.
An extent of 20 acres is available for development, it adds. The Karapuzha irrigation project was mooted to irrigate 5,221 hectares of land in nine panchayats of three taluks in the district. But even after spending about `300 crore, the project still remains incomplete.
The project had displaced many families including tribals.
The government has not completed the rehabilitation process of these people yet.
“Many people including tribals are yet to receive the compensation amount promised as per the rehabilitation package. The Adivasi Kshema Samithi (AKS) would strongly oppose the new project as it does not serve the cause of the people of the district,” said K C Kunhiraman, former MLA and state president of the AKS.
The Karapuzha project received the approval of the Planning Commission way back in 1977 and the estimated cost of the project was `7.6 crore. The scheme was to construct a dam across Karapuzha at Vazhavatta with a storage reservoir and canal systems. “The climate change has thrown the agriculture sector in the district into complete disarray. The rise in the price of fertilizers and non-availability of workers also added to the woes of the farmers here.
Instead of coming up with some farmers’ welfare projects, the government is acting as a middleman for the land mafia.
This project is unjustifiable,” said Sudakara Swami, district coordinator of the Haritha Sena.
“Implementation of such projects would result in destruction of irrigation systems and other agricultural infrastructure in the area. In fact, a feasibility study should be conducted before announcing a project of this scope. But nobody is bothered to do so,” said E J Jose, coordinator, Save Farmers Campaign Network.