A day after landslips at 17 places on the stretch, traffic is limping back to normal along the 130-km Ernakulam-Munnar route.
This is part of the Ernakulam-Dhanushkodi NH 49. Most tourists and others trapped in Munnar town could leave the place as private vehicles were allowed along the stretch on Tuesday. “Most of the earth, rocks and debris of trees that uprooted and fell into the road were removed by 4 am on Tuesday,” said T. I. Jose, Superintending Engineer of PWD (NH wing).
The KSRTC is yet to resume operations on the route and buses from Ernakulam are operating only up to Kothamangalam. Night traffic has been restricted because of thick fog and fear of land slips at vulnerable stretches. The highway jagrata samity is proactively responding to emergency situations.
Personnel of the National Disaster Response Force and Navy have retrieved most of the vehicles that are trapped beneath the debris. Still, there is a chance of loose earth giving away at a few places on the stretch as the alternation between wet and dry weather will loosen the grip between earth and rocks, Mr Jose said. The PWD (Roads wing) is engaged in restoring traffic through side roads.
“Excavators deployed by PWD have so far managed to clear the debris from all along the corridor. Slush from the roads will be removed within a few days and we are waiting for the rains to take a break,” said Shyamala V.M., executive engineer of PWD (NH wing). She hoped that normal day time traffic can resume from Wednesday.
The Revenue department is engaged in rescue and relief efforts. The worst affected by Monday’s landslides was either side of Cheeyapara waterfalls, from where five people were reported dead. Their bodies have been recovered. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy was among those who visited the site.
Apart from either sides of Cheeyapara, major landslides had thrown traffic into disarray on Monday near Pallivasal, Irutukanam, at Villanchira curve in between Kothamangalam and Neriyamangalam, Machiplavu in between Adimali and Chiyapara.
We will build protection walls at more places where the earth is loose, said Ms. Shyamala. Fearing further landslides, many motorists are taking alternative routes through Painavu and Kumily.
Though not in any way linked with landslides, water logging near Munnar KSRTC bus depot continues to be a perennial problem.
Mr Jose said the PWD will take steps to ensure a pothole-free ride along the Ernakulam-Munnar Road by December. Bad stretches in Munnar town will be resurfaced as per Bitumen Macadam and Bitumen Concrete standards.