By P.T. Bopanna
A massive hotel complex with swimming pools, promoted by multinational Marriott, has opened its door at Makkandur village in Coorg, the epicentre of the 2018 landslides. It was exactly five years ago that hills around Makkandur were ripped apart by the landslides which struck on August 16.
The Kodagu district administration in Karnataka headed by Venkat Raja, deputy commissioner, owe an explanation to the people as to how permission was granted to build the hotel complex with private pools in the landslide-prone area.
Marriott Hotels unveiled Coorg Marriott Resort and Spa at Makkandur village a few days ago. The hotel boasts of 108 elegantly appointed villas and cottages.
A note issued by the hotel says: “A select category of cottages also feature a private swimming pool, allowing guests to indulge in a refreshing dip within the comfort and privacy of their own space.”
The government agencies have apparently committed a blunder in granting permission in an area which witnessed unprecedented landslides in 2018.
Hundreds of people were stranded in Makkandur following the landslides. Since there was no road connectivity to the villages affected by the landsides, the residents who waited for days without any rescue operation in sight, trekked in the forest before reaching the Makkandur school where a relief camp was set up.
Post the pandemic, many tourist properties are coming up in Coorg, located in the fragile Western Ghats, one of the major biospheres in the world.
The Karnataka government should wake up to the situation and stop giving permission for construction of major structures in landslide prone areas. The government should immediately order an audit to find out the carrying capacity before allowing new tourist projects.