Several organisations in Kodagu have registered their protest against the illegal homestays functioning in the district after a woman of Mumbai origin died in one of the homestays in Madikeri under mysterious circumstances.
The young woman who had come to Kodagu with her friends on a tour had stayed at a homestay near Dairy Farm.
The police have opined that the woman died in the washroom due to possible inhalation of carbon leaked from the hot water geyser.
The parents of the woman have submitted a complaint and the investigation is in progress.
Various groups have been urging the district administration and the tourism department to seal the illegal homestays in the district. They alleged that the illegal homestays have been prioritizing the money-making and not the safety of the tourists.
3,000+ illegal homestays
There was a time when the homestays in Kodagu district were known for model facilities, safety and hospitality. But, due to some illegal homestays, the good image of the district is affected.
As per an estimation, there are about 4,000 homestays in the district. However, only 850 of them are registered with the tourism department and the rest are operating illegally. The demands made by the district homestay association to seal illegal homestays have been in vain.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, the district administration had imposed a ban on the stay of tourists in homestays and lodges. Owners of some illegal homestays had allowed the tourists to stay, by flouting the rules.
The homestays which had violated the rule were later sealed by the officials from the police and tourism departments, during raid operations.
After the relaxation of the lockdown, the illegal homestays have started to operate again.
Homestays were introduced in the district to provide a homely feeling to the visitors. Many families made modifications to their houses to accommodate guests and to provide them with Kodagu hospitality. The people were introduced to the culture and cuisine of Kodagu.
The scenario has changed today and homestays are less concerned about the safety of tourists, it has been alleged.
In several cases, the owners of the houses stay in foreign countries and the homestays are run by other persons, who have availed the house on rent. Even though CCTV surveillance is made mandatory by the tourism department, the same has not been followed.
Kodagu Zilla Rakshana Vedike president Pawan Pemmaiah said that the illegal homestays are giving room for untoward incidents.
If the situation goes out of control, the officials concerned would be held responsible, he said.
He also accused the owners of illegal homestays of flouting the rules.
Even though the officials are aware of the same, they have succumbed to the lobby by influential people, he said and urged the government to take measures to allow only the legal homestays to receive online bookings from tourists.
He asked who was responsible for the loss of life of the young lady who died in a homestay recently.
Coorg Homestay Association president B G Anantashayana said that the district administration and the tourism department were requested to seal the illegal homestays. But, no action has been taken yet.
Leader Chammatira Pravin Uttappa said that the idea of homestay has changed and a lot of illegal activities are taking place in the homestays.
Such incidents have been harming the image of Kodagu, he added.