The Forest department has closed the Angamozhi-Kochandy check-post in the Ranni Forest division till April 15 as a precautionary measure against fire outbreaks in the forests.

No private vehicle would be permitted to enter the forest road, said Mr R.Kamalahar, Divisional Forest Officer.

Talking to The Hindu here on Tuesday, Mr Kamalahar said the decision to block vehicular traffic through the forests was taken in the backdrop of the increasing instances of wild fire outbreaks in the region in the recent past.

Mr Kamalahar said the number of tourists passing through the Ranni-Gavi forest route too has gone up in the ast two months.

He said the department was also planning to regulate the tourist flow through this forest route cutting across the sensitive tiger habitat that has been annexed to the Periyar Tiger Reserve a few months ago.

The Forest department has annexed 148 sq km of forest land coming under the Plappally and Pachakkanam forest stations in the Ranni Forest Division to the Periyar Tiger Reserve from January 31.

With this, the ecologically sensitive forest tracts of Ponnambalamedu, Gavi, Pachakkanam, Anathode, Meenar, Chenthamarakkokka, Kochu Pampa and Varayadinmotta, that have also been regarded as places of tourist attraction, were brought under PTR.

Mr Kamalahar said regulating entry of tourists to this forest road cutting across the newly annexed areas of PTR has become a necessity to minimise human intervention in the area.

KSRTC service to continue

However, the closure of the check-post would not affect the Pathanamthitta-Gavi-Pathanamthitta daily service of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation, the DFO said.

Government vehicles on duty would also be permitted to enter the forest road, he added.

The closing of the Kochandy check-post would affect the functioning of the eco-tourism project of the Kerala Forest Development Corporation (KFDC) at Kochu Pampa near Gavi.