IDUKKI: Idukki District Collector G R Gokul has courted controversy over his decision to repeal a stop memo which he had issued to a private resort in Pallivasal in the wake of disaster threats.
His decision to repeal the memo even as the Revenue Department is looking to evict all encroachments and illegal constructions in Munnar has drawn flak from environmentalists. In addition, Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan has sought a clarification from Gokul on the matter.
As district chairman of the District Disaster Management Authority, Gokul had on March 15 issued the stop memo to the ‘Plum Judy’ resort at Pulippara on grounds of calamity threat after huge boulders from nearby hills slipped down on the vehicles parked on the resort’s compound on the night of March 13.
Though no one was injured, two vehicles were damaged. The incident had raised questions on the safety of people staying at the resort and those living at estate lines in the lowland. An ensuing inspection by Geological Survey of India (GSI) found high risks in the downstream owing to the presence of boulders and ledges on the hills.
In his latest order, however, Gokul said the memo was being repealed based on a joint inspection report submitted by the Devikulam tahsildar and Kerala Public Works Department (KPWD) assistant engineer (Buildings) which said protective measures like construction of cladding wall and reinforcements with welded mesh and GI wire were done at the area as suggested by GSI experts.
“Hence, it is believed the risk threat has lessened,” Gokul’s order said.
But environmentalists alleged there was discrepancy in the proceedings as no authentic study was conducted to measure the safety status of the place. “GSI experts pointed out safety threats in place. The District Collector should have consulted them before repealing the stop memo. When the resort itself is functioning in violation of the Kerala Land Assignment Rules, how can he issue the order?” asked Harish Vasudevan, an environmental activist.
In their examination, GSI experts had classified the boulders and ledges on the hills as sub-critical, critical and supercritical. Most importantly, it had recommended the “encroachment of natural streamlets/stream should be totally avoided as most streamlet valleys are prone to debris flow and slide travel path.” Ironically, this recommendation was overlooked.
Gokul told Express he had considered a technical report of the KPWD civil engineer which stated the danger was removed through some civil work. “In fact, the GSI recommended some civil work there have been done. So, a second opinion is not needed. When the danger has been removed, there is no provision to initiate action under the disaster management aspect,” he said. He also dismissed allegations regarding violation of the Land Assignment Rules, saying the stop memo was not issued on its basis.