Minister allays fears over Bolgatty marina

KOCHI, AUG. 14. The Union Minister of State for Tourism, Renuka Choudhury, has sought to alleviate the fears of the local populace over the proposed marina at Bolgatty Island. The project will neither affect the heritage site of Bolgatty Palace nor pose any threat to national security, she told a news conference here today.

She said the Government would have complete control over the project, though it would be done with private participation. She said the Tourism Department would never compromise on national security and it would not transfer any portion of the island to any foreign company, she said.

Trans-Resource Corporation, Malaysia, has won the global tender floated by the Tourism Department for the Rs. 50-crore project. The Union Government had already sanctioned Rs. 4.23 crores for the marina, which would provide mooring facilities for pleasure yachts and boats, she said.

No security threat

A section of the local people had raised objections to the project citing reasons of national security threat and non-protection of a heritage site. The State Tourism Secretary, T. Balakrishnan, who also attended the press meet along with the Minister for Tourism, P. Sankaran, and T.O. Sooraj, Tourism Department Director, said that nobody in India had ever built a marina and had the expertise.

The Malaysian company had built over 100 marinas all over the world, he said. The company would build, operate and maintain the facility, he said. The Government, with 26 per cent stake in the project, would have effective control over it, he said.

Mr. Balakrishnan said that if the people did not want the project at Bolgatty, then it could be constructed at any alternative land offered by the Goshree Islands Development Authority (GIDA), or the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) or the Cochin Port Trust (CPT).

Transparent project

Mr. Sankaran said that it was a transparent project. "The moment Kochi Corporation says it does not want the marina project, we will shift it elsewhere," he said.

Ms. Choudhury pointed out that several States had, in fact, been queuing for the project. She said we should not look at the bogey of technology as a fear instrument. Ms. Choudhury said that rural tourism potential was great in Kerala, and that it would be marketed aggressively. The potential of cultural and pilgrim tourism was being examined seriously, she said, adding that a large number of foreign tourists were being attracted to the country's temple architectural wonders.

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