Controversy over Rushikonda hill resort project resurfaces after change of rule

Visakhapatnam: The fate of the new building on Rushikonda Hill remains uncertain in view of the change of government in the state after the general elections.

Access to the surrounding areas is currently restricted amid a state of uncertainty. The building was initially meant for commercial purposes such as hotels and resorts. Conflicting claims later surfaced, suggesting that it might be used as the chief minister's office.

The state tourism development corporation (APTDC) initiated the project with an investment of `365 crore on the Rushikonda Hill after demolishing the renovated tourism resorts in 2021. Critics, including environmentalists and some politicians, argued that this project violated coastal regulation zone (CRZ) rules and the Visakhapatnam metropolitan region master plan.

Legal challenges followed. Jana Sena corporator PVLN Murthy and TD MLA Velagapudi Ramakrishna Babu filed cases. These led the AP high court to direct the Ministry of Environmentto form a joint committee to investigate the rule violations.

The committee of experts found multiple irregularities in the project's implementation.

Despite these concerns and legal actions, the APTDC continued its activities at Rushikonda.

The project, valued at `365 crore, was to include banquet halls, guest rooms, restaurants, villa suites, a spa, fitness centres, indoor games, back offices and service areas.

The initial layout plan by the GVMC outlined a project involving the demolition and reconstruction of a beach resort complex.

The approved blocks for the Rushikonda redevelopment project include the Vengi Block that spans 1713.22 square metres and will house administrative offices, kitchen facilities, and dormitories.

The Gajapathi Block covers 903.34 square metres and is designated for the housekeeping buildings. The Kalinga Block, occupying 6581.49 square metres, will accommodate suites, while the Vijayanagaram Block, totaling 3193.56 square metres, is also designated for suites.

At present, six blocks have been erected on Rushikonda Hill.

The workers involved in the project, opting for anonymity due to security reasons, disclosed that the resort departed from traditional Indian architectural styles. Instead, it showcased luxurious amenities and high-quality furnishings.

Noteworthy features include doors and rods adorned in gold, and this raised questions whether this is genuine gold or gold-plated. Spacious office halls and expansive gardens in front of the structures were envisaged.

Jana Sena corporator Peethala Murthy Yadav, recently filed a sub-petition that opposed any diversions from the original purpose for which the building application was made to the GVMC.

The plan never looked like a hotel. Rather, it appeared like a palace, he said, and also criticised the government's expenditure of `480 crore on reconstructing a structure originally built for `200 crore.

Meanwhile, Vizianagaram MP Kalisetti Appalanaidu recently assured the public of the coalition government's commitment to repurpose the Rushikonda buildings to better serve public needs, affirming their dedication to protecting public property.

However, questions linger about why the newly constructed public buildings intended for hotels and resorts are yet to open to the public, with no photos or videos released thus far.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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