Demolition drive at Varkala Cliff held despite resistance from stakeholders

The Varkala Municipality had recently served notices to the private parties giving an ultimatum to remove the illegal structures, sign boards,seating arrangements by 2 pm on Monday.
The special squad under the Varkala Municipality and tourism stakeholders removing structures from the edge of the cliff beyond the footpath at Varkala Cliff.
The special squad under the Varkala Municipality and tourism stakeholders removing structures from the edge of the cliff beyond the footpath at Varkala Cliff.Photo | BP Deepu, EPS

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The special demolition drive launched by the Varkala Municipality on Tuesday morning turned stormy when the tourism stakeholders demanded more time for the removal of structures from the edge of the cliff beyond the footpath at Varkala Cliff. There are around 265 business operators running resorts, restaurants and various other business establishments on the cliff. 

The Varkala Municipality had recently served notices to the private parties giving an ultimatum to remove the illegal structures, sign boards,seating arrangements by 2 pm on Monday. Subsequently, on Tuesday a special squad under the Varkala Municipality arrived at the location for carrying out the demolition. But they were stalled by the stakeholders, who began their protest at the Helipad from Tuesday morning.  

After an hour-long dispute and discussion, the business operators and the squad jointly removed the structures.

The officials under the Varkala Municipality engaged in an argument with the private stake holders running business on the cliff at Varkala in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday morning. The squad came to knock down the structures on the edge of the cliff beyond the footpath.
The officials under the Varkala Municipality engaged in an argument with the private stake holders running business on the cliff at Varkala in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday morning. The squad came to knock down the structures on the edge of the cliff beyond the footpath.Photo | BP Deepu, EPS

The Varkala Municipality launched the drive following orders from the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) in the wake of accelerated erosion happening at the cliff posing threat to the visitors. Several shop owners have made temporary extensions at the edge of the cliff facing the sea which is rapidly eroding.

The recent heavy rains have further worsened the erosion as several parts of the cliff collapsed in many places along the footpath. TNIE has extensively covered the rapid erosion and safety threat posed by the eroding cliff from May 11 prompting Tourism Department, DDMA and Varkala Municipality authorities to take action. 

Lenin R, joint secretary of Varkala Tourism Development Association, said that the cliff is fast eroding. “All these resorts and shops have been operating their businesses on the cliff for 25 to 30 years. The cliff is eroding not because of them. The authorities should take steps to conserve the cliff or let us do it our way,” he said. 

On Monday night a huge portion of the cliff collapsed behind the Bali Mandapam at Papanasam Beach. The approaching monsoon is also sparking concern among the tourism stakeholders and residents.

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