Thiruvananthapuram: Hundreds of tourists arriving at the Veli tourist village are facing difficulties to reach the Pozhikkara beach with shops being set up on the way leading to the beach and illegal fencing of the stretch.
As many as 10 shops that sell tea, snacks, bottled drinks and mineral water and an amusement park have come up on the way leading from the floating bridge to the beach.
The shops have come up near the boat club from where the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) operates boats.
Locals say they have title deeds for the land and shopkeepers have encroached on the land. Sheds have come up in violation of rules. Tourism sources said one of the sheds is used for gambling and that the place is a haven for anti-social elements.
Almost all the shopkeepers have put up beach umbrellas and chairs in front of their shops for the tourists.
The person who runs the amusement park has fenced the land. Thus, the tourists are forced to move to the beach through a single point by the side of two shops near the amusement park. This stretch is heavily littered. The tourists and hundreds of school children who arrive for picnic everyday in the village have to move along the stretch to reach the beach. The shops also do not have valid licences.
As the walkway ends abruptly near the right side of the amusement park, the tourists cannot use it to proceed to the beach. The walkway is also badly damaged due to the sand-mining from the Veli lake.
The locals have now petitioned the city corporation secretary, the police and the Deputy Director of Tourism to take steps to shut down the illegal business units. They have also sought removal of encroachments so that there is free access to all those visiting the beach.
A senior tourism official told The Hindu that the department was aware of the denial of free access. The department would soon work out a scheme to acquire the private land and to clear the encroachments for the development of the tourist village, he added.