Collapsing cliff forces indefinite closure of Varkala Bali Mandapam

Following the collapse, a team from the district administration had recently inspected the cliff and Bali Mandapam area.
A major portion of Varkala Cliff collapsed on Friday near Papanasam beach
A major portion of Varkala Cliff collapsed on Friday near Papanasam beach Photo | B P Deepu

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The repeated collapse of the cliff near the Bali Mandapam at Papanasam beach in Varkala, which is frequented by hundreds of devotees every day, has raised serious safety concerns. A significant portion of the Varkala cliff close to the Bali Mandapam near Aliyirakkam beach collapsed on Thursday, prompting the district administration to suspend all activities there indefinitely.

In the wake of the accelerated erosion, the district collector has decided to go for a joint inspection at Varkala Cliff by the department of mining and geology, the department of soil conservation and a team of the District Disaster Management Authority immediately to devise solutions to ensure people’s safety.

A major portion of Varkala Cliff collapsed on Friday near Papanasam beach
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Following the collapse, a team from the district administration had recently inspected the cliff and Bali Mandapam area. According to officials, the cliff area in close near Mandapam is in a vulnerable state owing to excavations done for the construction of a toilet block by the tourism department.

“A portion of the cliff sandwiched between the toilet block and Bali Mandapam is eroding and collapsing. We inspected the area and found that erosion is happening almost every day. Hence, we have directed the devaswom board to suspend all activities at the Bali Mandapam until further notice,” said an official with the district administration.

According to officials, one of the options to make the area safe is by removing the fragile part of the cliff that is collapsing. “A final decision will be taken by the collector based on the report submitted by the tahsildar and geologist,” said the official.

The district collector has also directed the District Mining and Geology office to further study the stability of the cliff and file a report. An official with the district mining and geology department said a report has been submitted to the district collector.

“Another comprehensive inspection by various departments will be held immediately as per the orders of the district collector. It is a protected site under Geological Survey of India (GSI). Around two years ago, the GSI had written to the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences, urging immediate intervention to protect the cliff,” said an official with the department of mining and geology. The collapsed cliff portion lying on the beach will be removed immediately. “We have given the report. The collapsed part of the cliff lying on the beach will be removed immediately,” the official said.

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