Kerala floods: Tourism industry created a slippery slope for itself

Mysuru: After the devastation of Kerala floods, the state has gravely suffered from the loss of lives and infrastructure at large.

Moreover, the southern state – which is fondly known as God’s own country for its ecological charm – is expected to lose out on major income in the tourism sector.

The Tourism industry in the state has started getting a hint of what is about to come as decline in the influx of tourists to Karnataka’s Mysuru from Kerala has already declined.

The number of visitors to Mysuru Zoo from August 1 to 15 this year came down to 98,990 from 104,415 during the corresponding period in 2017, according to the Zoo Director Ajit Kulkarni.

The number of visitors to the Mysuru palace from August 1 to 15 this year decreased to 1,34,658 from 1,46,419 during the corresponding period in 2017.

“We receive a lot of tourists from Kerala after Bakrid. This year, we are not expecting them because of the floods there,” said Deputy Director of Mysuru Palace Board Subramanya.

Chairman of Mysuru Travel Mart C.A. Jayakumar said a lot of tourists are likely to strike off not only Kerala and Kodagu, but also Mysuru from their itinerary in the coming days. The impact of floods could also cast a shadow on tourist inflow during Dasara, he said.

Tourism industry dug its own grave

  • As per reports, multiple landslides in Kodagu have destroyed coffee estates, homes and entire villages have caved in and the activists are claiming that the rampant construction of hillside homestays and jungle lodges have resulted in deforestation, which had caused the landslides to occur.
  • Over the last 10 years, about 2,800 acres of coffee plantations and paddy fields in Kodagu have been converted for commercial purposes. Towns in Kodagu have rapidly expanded to give rise to new layouts which have been constructed in between the towns.

Flood was on the cards

  • The author of a widely cited report on the Western Ghats, Madhav Gadgil, has reportedly said that the disaster could have been avoided if the authorities listened to environmentalists.
  • Gadgil is a scientist who was at the helm of affairs at the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel formed by Ministry of Environment and Forests in 2010.
  • During his interaction with a leading daily, Gadgil said that the developmental activities in the last several years “greatly increased the magnitude of the suffering that we are seeing today” and impeded the state’s capacity to deal with the disaster.
  • In his 2012 report on the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats region – which includes parts of Kerala — Gadgil had said that the range should be officially declared ecologically sensitive.
  • After the report recommended a ban on certain mining and industrial activities in the area, it was met with strong criticism from state governments and various stakeholders. However, the Environmental Ministry later notified some 57,000 sq km of Western Ghats as ecologically sensitive – 9,937 km of which was in Kerala. Gadgil’s report had recommended 13,108 sq km from Kerala to be notified.
  • Gadgil has specified that stone quarrying activity in Kerala is against the environmental laws while alleging that the government does not want to implement them as it goes against its vested interests. While referring to unregulated “developmental” activity in Goa with a similar trend of massive stone quarrying, he believes that Goa is headed on the same path.