//Bekal Tourism Lobby’s Attack on Journalists Condemned

Bekal Tourism Lobby’s Attack on Journalists Condemned

Media Release

20 july 2011

Thiruvananthapuram 18/07/2011: We strongly condemn the attack on the journalist Sunil Issac of REPORTER channel and their cameraman Limesh by a private resort group in Chettukundu in Bekal ,Kasaragode yesterday. We demand to the state government that freedom and protection of journalists should be ensured and the culprits should be booked under the law.

This attack and other recent assaults against media show that the freedom of expression in the state is seriously curtailed.  Journalist Sunil Isaac and Camera man Limesh has been manhandled by resort personnel while exposing the unlawful activities of the private resort developers and Bekal Resorts Development Corporation (BRDC), a Kerala government undertaking under department of tourism with regard to Coastal Regulation Zone violation, river reclamation and the pathetic situation of Dalit families displaced by BRDC for this private resort developer.

Bekal is promoted by BRDC and claimed as India’s first well planned tourism destination and comes under’ Special Tourism Area (similar to Special Tourism Zone).BRDC is identifying and acquiring land (forceful in most cases using the representative of state power tag) for potential resort sites, developing infrastructure, leasing out the properties in Bekal.

The reporters had gone to the 60 acre resort plot which is part of Bekal tourism project, leased out to Green Gateway Leisure Limited (GGL), Hospitality and Resort Development arm of Air Travel Enterprises Group by BRDC in Chettukundu to report various illegal activities by resort developers in the area. Number of various legislations has been violated by the BRDC and developers in this region such as the Coastal Regulation Zone rules, Wetland Conservation Act and Environment Protection Act etc.The developers destroyed the mangroves, reclaimed river, filled wetlands, diverted agricultural land and diverted river water flow in the site. Contrary to the claims of BRDC there are people who displaced from their land and still remain without proper compensation and rehabilitation. The attacked reporters were also trying to cover 19 dalit fisher folk families who have been displaced by BRDC in 2010 as part of developing this resort site.BRDC acquired this land from this people without proper rehabilitation packages. The land allotted to this people is a low lying land and which is flooded now. These communities were offered that the land would be filled by BRDC.There is no electricity, water and sanitation infrastructure for these displaced people. BRDC have terribly failed to keep their promises and acting as a real estate broker in Bekal.

In this context we demand an appropriate action from Kerala government to ensure the freedom of expression in the state and protection of journalists who are reporting the increasing incidents of corruption and illegal activities in the state. We  demand:

Immediate rehabilitation of displaced families with proper rehabilitation package related to Bekal Tourism project
An independent enquiry of all BRDC activities especially land acquisition, land allotment etc.
Strong action against various violations of laws in the name of tourism development such as Coastal Regulation Zone rules, Wetland Conservation rules etc.

We call for an immediate intervention by Chief Minister of Kerala in order to establish justice to the affected communities. We express our solidarity to the journalists who are courageously exposing the illegal activities of land mafia and tourism lobby who are encroaching the common property resources and natural resources of the state.

Sara Joseph – Writer and Social Activist

CR Neelakantan – Writer and Social Activist

T Peter – President Kerala Swatanthra Matsya Thozhilali Federation

Civic Chandran – Social Activist and Editor Padhabedham

K Ajitha –  Anweshi

Sudheer Kumar KV – Convenor Anti Endosulfan Samara Samithi Kasaragod

Robin  – Keraleeyam Magazine

Geo Jose – Convenor – NAPM

Magline Peter – Theera Desha Mahila Vedi

K Sajeed – Solidarity Youth Movement

Dr.T T Sreekumar – Civil Society Campaigner and Writer

K P Sasi – Activist Film Maker

Sumesh Mangalassery – Kabani – The Other Direction

Anivar Araving, Moving Republic

For more details Contact:

Jisha 09446567949 , Sudheer.K.V – 09847768888 , Sunil Isaac , REPORTER Channel – 08547007043