Union tourism ministry steps in as Varkala Cliff erosion worsens

Following the collapse of the cliff, the municipal authorities have closed down footpaths in some areas.
The portion of the cliff that collapsed near Edava beach in Varkala
The portion of the cliff that collapsed near Edava beach in VarkalaPhoto|Express

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the Varkala Cliff — an iconic national geological structure and geo-heritage site — eroding at an alarming rate, the Ministry of Tourism has stepped in, directing the district collector and Geological Survey of India (GSI) to conduct an on-site assessment on Saturday.

The portion of the cliff that collapsed near Edava beach in Varkala
Yet another instance of collapse threatens tourism at Varkala Cliff

Minister of State for Tourism Suresh Gopi will also take part in the site inspection and assessment of the degradation of the cliff.

In the latest collapse, a major portion of the Varkala Cliff caved in near the Edava beach last Friday, raising safety concerns further.

The heavy rains that lashed the district in the past couple of months have accelerated the erosion of the Varkala Cliff, setting off alarm bells. The decision of the district collector to knock down a portion of the cliff near the Bali Mandapam had invited widespread criticism and prompted the GSI authorities to step in and fight for the conservation of the cliff.

Following directives from the district collector, the Varkala municipality has decided to take steps to remove the unauthorised structures on the cliff, which are a threat to its stability.

There are around 250 commercial establishments, including restaurants, handicraft shops and others, on the North Cliff. It is learnt that 80% of them are unauthorised.

Sanjay Sahadevan, advisor to the Varkala Tourism Development Association (VTDA), said they have requested the authorities to grant permission to reconstruct the pathway on the North Cliff. “We are ready to cooperate with the municipality,” said Sanjay. 

On-site inspection

The Ministry of Tourism has directed the district collector and Geological Survey of India officials to conduct an on-site assessment of the collapsing cliff on Saturday

‘Municipality taking steps to protect cliff’

“Our priority is to conserve the cliff. Owners of the land on the cliff are ready to pool in money for the reconstruction of the pathway,” said Sanjay. The association is preparing a memorandum to be submitted to Union Minister Suresh Gopi.

Following the collapse of the cliff, the municipal authorities have closed down footpaths in some areas. Papanasam ward councillor C Ajayakumar said the local body is taking all necessary steps to protect the cliff.

Varkala MLA V Joy said the tourism minister has agreed to discuss the assembly session to take necessary action to conserve the cliff.

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