A family decides to fight a neighboring resort for the right to fish, live and remain in their property. A poignant story of courage and tenacity.
Muhamma is a community near Alleppey, lying on the shore of the popular Vembanad Lake. Anirudhan's family has been living there for 30 years. Their three children, now young adults, were born in the family house. The house looks onto the lake, and their two fishing boats are anchored 5 metres from their doorstep. Anirudhan is a fisherman at night, a clerk during the day. He keeps two jobs to support his family... and the hefty lawyer bills he had to contract to fight the neighboring resort that poisons his life.
The Park on the Lake Resort is a popular 5 star property that keeps getting glowing reviews from its guests. “Secluded”, “offers amazing food” and “unbeatable views” are often used to describe the 10-room exclusive hotel. Guests can also overnight onboard the resort's own luxury conference boat, which serves as the hotel's private shuttle. The boat is the size of an ocean ferry and dwarfs Anirudhan's little wooden canoes.
As soon as the resort opened, in the early 2000s, problems started for Anirudhan's family and their neighbors. Loud music and barbecues late into the night (“cultural programmes” argued the resort), pollution of the only drinking water in the village (“only during monsoon season, when the tank overflows” downplays the resort), creation of a permanent jetty to dock the conference boat – which is against the law on Vembanad Lake. This last point is the one Anirudhan took up to court. The battle that ensued was long and costly, playing first in Anirudhan's favor after an inspector's visit confirmed the complaints. Then, two months after this visit, another inspector of the same organisation paid a second brief visit, and submitted a report completely contradicting the first one. Anirudhan lost the case. What happen during those two months? What changed the inspector's mind? One can only guess...
Our latest field visit in January 2012 uncovered that Anirudhan's family has recently had to sell their house to pay the lawyer's bills and find peace from the resort. They bought a property 1 km inland and will give up their fishing activities. They will not, however, give up the fight. “For me, now, it's a question of justice. I will spend my last breath making sure that what happened to me doesn't happen to someone else, and that the resort closes” adds Anirudhan.
Actions: Anirudhan's case has been documented and will be brought forward to the Kerala Human Rights Commission. We urge tourists and tour operators not to trust their business to the Park on the Lake resort. If you wish to write a word of ecnouragement to Anirudhan's family, please email us.
- Anirudhan's house
- The resort's conference boat
- The resort on the Lake
- Anirudhan's son on their boat
- "Heaven on water": Ironic name for the resort's boat
(Please note: Tourism Concern, Kabani or our partners are not responsible for the content of unverified reports.)