Kodagu: The tiny district of Kodagu also called Kashmir of the South is one of the major tourist destinations in South India. As it is one of the nearest hill station to silicon city Bengaluru the tourist flow only increases by the day.
Just two decades back Kodagu, known for its scenic beauty was calm and clean. But after increase in the number of tourists and subsequent increase in number of homestays slowly turned a bane due to clean environment getting polluted. According to the homestay concept, the family can build extra rooms for guests and allow them to stay in their house so that the tourists can taste the food, and culture of people. But the mushrooming of homestays soon became a commercial activity. Now more than 90 percent of homestays run in separate buildings and even owner’s family sometimes do not stay in the remises. It is now difficult to differentiate between lodges and homestays.
According to District Administration sources, 670 homestays have availed license from Tourism Department to run homestays. But at least another 2000 more homestays run unauthorisedly. According to norms no homestay can run in rented building, and all stays should be installed with CC cameras but hundreds of unauthorised homestays are run in rented building. Many homestays are leased to third persons, it is gathered.
On Sunday last a woman tourist from Mumbai succumbed to asphyxiation caused by LPG gas geyser. During interrogation it has come to light that the owner had leased out the homestay, and was staying abroad. This kind of commercialisation snatched a life of innocent tourist. These homestays charging exorbitant money, it is alleged not even serving homely food. The police raided two homestays last year and had booked owner and participants for organising a rave party. Also there is a possibility of anti-social elements taking shelter in unauthorised homestays as they do not maintain register.
Speaking to News Karnataka Coorg Homestay Association President B. G. Ananthashayana said that the association has already urged authorities to close the unauthorised homestays but they are yet to take action.
According to sources more than 18 lakh tourists visit the district every year which has a population of 6 lakhs. The mushrooming hospitality facilities provided job opportunities to thousands of people, and many homestay owners became financially well-off. However, increase in tourism activities began affecting normal life and caused environmental pollution. Even people are now seen constructing homestays unscientifically in hillocks causing landslides.
Kodava Samaja Youth Wing President Chammatira Pravin Uthappa said that the increased tourism activities have done much damage to the district in terms of Covid control too. He said that the State Government should restrict entry of tourists by issuing limited daily online passes so that the district gets back its lost serenity.