Halcyon Castle controversy: Government, Opposition strike opposite views

TAKING A CLOSE LOOK: Tourism Minister K.C. Venugopal, Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan and CPI(M) district secretary M. Vijayakumar on an inspection of the controversial site at Kovalam on Saturday afternoon.  

Staff Reporter

Thiruvananthapuram: The Government's attempt to work out a political consensus on the Kovalam hotel issue ran into a roadblock on Saturday after the Opposition stuck to its allegation of encroachment and unauthorised construction of buildings on the land acquired by the Leela Group.

After a joint inspection of the controversial site on Saturday afternoon, Tourism Minister K.C. Venugopal and Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan took diametrically opposite views.

While Mr. Achuthanandan accused the Leela Group of encroachment and unauthorised construction, Mr. Venugopal said there was nothing to indicate such illegal activities. The Minister said the Government would not cede even an inch of public property.

Talking to reporters, Mr. Achuthanandan alleged that the Leela Group was running a parallel administration at Kovalam. He said the hotel management was in possession of a large part of the public property on the beach even after the Government had announced the take over of the Halcyon Castle.

"The official machinery has failed to examine the issue in detail and prevent illegal construction," he said. Mr. Achuthanandan urged the Government to take over the entire land on the beachfront.

Denying that there was any encroachment, Mr. Venugopal said only a perusal of past records would reveal if the buildings on the beach were unauthorised. He said the Government was committed to the establishment of a Heritage Museum at the Halcyon Castle.

Neelalohitadasan Nadar, MLA, district panchayat president Anavoor Nagappan, District Collector N. Ayyappan, CPI(M) district secretary M. Vijayakumar and LDF district convener Gangadharan Nadar were present.