Varkala cliff: Municipality fails to curb growing illegal constructions

The iconic cliff is on the verge of collapse owing to unscientific and increased human activities.
An illegal shop on the footpath on the edge of Varkala Cliff
An illegal shop on the footpath on the edge of Varkala Cliff Photo | B P Deepu

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Unscientific constructions flouting Kerala Municipal Building Rules and Coastal Regulation Zone norms are among the main reasons for the accelerated erosion happening on many parts of the iconic Varkala cliff. The Varkala Municipality has failed to curb growing unauthorised construction happening on the cliff. Several illegal extensions and constructions have come up recently on the Thiruvambadi beach and south cliff in Varkala.

An illegal shop on the footpath on the edge of Varkala Cliff
Illegal constructions at Varkala Cliff must go, says municipality

The iconic cliff is on the verge of collapse owing to unscientific and increased human activities. On Tuesday, the municipal authorities removed many illegal structures built on the cliff. According to municipality authorities there are around 180 illegal structures on the cliff and now the municipality has launched yet another special drive to identify more illegal construction from the north to south areas of the cliff. The recent heavy rains have accelerated the erosion, raising serious concern on the safety of the visitors.

Anil Kumar, councillor and opposition leader at Varkala Municipality, alleged that 70% of the construction on the cliff is illegal. “The municipality authorities issue a stop memo just for the sake of it and take no serious action. The cliff is degrading year after year because of such illegal activities,” said Anil Kumar.

An official of the Varkala Municipality said that a drive will be launched to identify unauthorised construction. “We will take stern action and have decided to collect three times more tax from such constructions. Unauthorised numbers will be issued to violators and other illegal structures will be removed,” said the official.

An illegal shop on the footpath on the edge of Varkala Cliff
Violations galore, Varkala Cliff under threat in Kerala

In the wake of the dangerous situation at the cliff, the Varkala Municipality had conducted a survey and submitted a report to the district collector. “We have reported all the construction within the 10 metres of the 6.1-km long Varkala cliff. We are yet to get a response from the district collector,” said chairman K M Laji, Varkala Municipality.

He said that the municipality has taken strict action against private parties engaged in construction violating norms. “Many have sought legal help and gained stay orders from the tribunal and court. We have initiated legal steps to vacate the stay orders,” said Laji.

However, Anil Kumar alleged that a lot of constructions have come in recent years on the cliff. “The court and tribunal have ordered to maintain the status quo but the parties continue with the constructions and the municipality doesn’t take any action,” he alleged.

Urgent Intervention needed to protect Varkala Cliff: V Muraleedharan

Union Minister V Muraleedharan on Thursday visited the iconic Varkala cliff, which is facing rapid erosion owing to heavy rains. Emphasising the need for immediate intervention by the government, Muraleedharan said that preserving the rare laterite cliff, which is a unique geological formation, should be given top priority. He said that the government should give more importance to the conservation of tourism destinations and ensuring the safety of the tourists. He alleged that the state government is not ready to include Varkala in the Centre Tourism Project. He said that the government should stop neglecting Varkala and take immediate intervention.

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