UAE to Assist Kerala in Establishing Tourism Township - Travel News
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 / India  / UAE to Assist Kerala in Establishing Tourism Township
5 Jan

UAE to Assist Kerala in Establishing Tourism Township

The Kerala state government has proposed the development of a tourism township in either Vagamon or Munnar, with the assistance of the UAE government. The extent of the UAE government’s involvement remains unclear, raising concerns about potential ecological impact, particularly in the environmentally fragile areas of Idukki district as highlighted in the Gadgil and Kasturirangan reports. These reports explicitly discourage tourism and construction initiatives in the Western Ghats and surrounding regions.

Initiated on November 9, 2023, the tourism township proposal prompted communication from the tourism department to the revenue department on December 13. The principal secretary (revenue) instructed the land revenue commissioner to identify suitable land in Vagamon or Munnar for the project. A high-level meeting convened by the chief secretary on December 18 included senior officials from the tourism and revenue departments.

Tourism Township in Munnar

UAE to Assist Kerala in Establishing Tourism Township

While the UAE government’s precise role is yet to be clarified, the government aims for an eco-friendly project, especially considering the ecological fragility of the shortlisted locations. The proposal emerged during a meeting between the UAE ambassador and the chief minister, prompting considerations for major investments. In the event of direct UAE government involvement, the Centre’s decision becomes crucial, given that sovereign government acquisitions in India must go through diplomatic channels. If the project is privately initiated, comparisons may be drawn with the Kochi SmartCity, initially presented as an IT initiative but later developed by a UAE-based private company into an integrated township in Kakkanad.

The magnitude of real estate development for tourism in Munnar and Vagamon contradicts the recommendations of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (Gadgil Committee) and the Kasturirangan Report. The state government recently framed guidelines to establish a Munnar Hill Area Authority, aiming for sustainable development, addressing encroachments, and protecting the environmental uniqueness of the Munnar area. In the case of Vagamon, the lack of basic land records, including the basic tax register (BTR) and field measurement book (FMB), raises concerns about the availability of concrete information on land holdings, government land, and porambokes in Vagamon village.