Mayor gets complaint from hoteliers’ forum in the Kovalam area

The work on the allocation of new TC numbers in the Corporation area has come under a cloud, after allegations of corruption were levelled against an officer from the Vizhinjam zonal area. A complaint in this regard was sent by the Kerala Tourism Protection and Development Council (KTPDC), a collective of hoteliers and traders in the Kovalam area, to the Mayor earlier this week.

CRZ violations

The Vizhinjam zone, consisting of wards which were added to the Corporation recently, is crucial due to the presence of several unauthorised constructions violating Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms.

“Yes, we have received a complaint about the officer on duty demanding money for TC allocation and it has been forwarded to the charge officer at the zonal office to investigate and submit a report within two days,” said Revenue Officer A. Unnikrishnan Nair.

When The Hindu contacted Rajan M. Keshavan, the charge officer at Vizhinjam, he said such charges were levelled mostly by resort owners when the duty officers did not work according to their whims.

“There is no scope for corruption in the TC allocations, as it is done by self-assessment. We are not allocating any new numbers. Updated TC numbers are provided only to those who have old numbers. If an unauthorised construction is found, we mark it as ‘UA,’ along with the nearest valid TC number to trace it later. There has been severe pressure on us from various quarters over the unauthorised constructions. A majority of the buildings in this area come under this category and so we are extra vigilant in our work. Anyway, we will conduct a proper investigation and take appropriate action,” Mr. Rajan said.

There is a twist in the tale, as all the office-bearers of the KTPDC, whose names are mentioned in the letterhead in which the complaint is given, denied knowledge of such a complaint, when The Hindu contacted them. Even B. Sreekumar, KTPDC president, whose signature is seen below the complaint, said he never gave such a complaint.

“I was out of station and came back only today. I do not know about any such complaint,” Mr. Sreekumar said.

Many complaints

However, some hotel owners in the Kovalam area, on condition of anonymity, said the office-bearers might have backtracked on their complaint due to pressure from the officer concerned.

“There is no doubt that they had indeed sent the complaint. There have been complaints from several hoteliers about this particular officer demanding exorbitant amounts to regularise unauthorised constructions. Some of them who complained must have backtracked out of fear, as some of their assessments are yet to happen,” said a hotel owner at Kovalam.

The Kovalam unit of the Kerala Hotel and Restaurants Association is also contemplating filing a complaint on the issue.

“Some hotel owners have sent us a complaint regarding this. We will decide whether to proceed with the complaint at a meeting to be held tomorrow, said Aheendra Babu, Kovalam unit secretary of the association.