Worst affected were Sabarimala pilgrims and private vendors transporting goods to Kerala

A dawn-to-dusk bandh, called by the Communists Party of India (Marxist) in Idukki and nearby districts in Kerala against the decision of Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to turn Western Ghats into Ecologically Sensitive Areas, paralysed traffic across Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, forcing TNSTC and private bus operators to cancel their services here on Saturday.

The worst affected were the Sabarimala pilgrims from Tamil Nadu and private vendors transporting goods to Kerala.

All vehicles proceeding to Sabarimala from different parts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka were stopped at Lower Camp since 6 a.m. of Saturday.

The police blocked all vehicles to avoid traffic congestion on the Ghat road between the Lower Camp and Kumuli check-post.

More than 500 private vans, cars and jeeps were stranded near Lower Camp bus stop.

Vans carrying flowers for Ayyappan Temple in Sabarimala were also stranded.

The temple authorities appealed to the Idukki district administration to allow the vehicles.

On request from Idukki Collector, police allowed flower-laden vans to cross the Kumuli check-post.

Corporation and private buses going to Kumuli, Vandiperiyar, Nedunkandam, Munnar and Thekkadi stopped its services at the Kumuli, Bodi and Cumbum Mettu check-posts.

However, Sabarimala pilgrims’ vehicles proceeding to Tamil Nadu from Kerala were allowed to pass the Kerala-Tamil Nadu check-posts.

Even if the police had allowed stranded vehicles around 6 p.m., it would take several hours to cross the Kumuli check-post as all commercial vehicles and cab operators had to obtain permit from the Kumuli check-post, said cab operators.

The Idukki police administration had appealed to Theni police not to send vehicles to Kerala to prevent untoward incidents.

The Environment Ministry had taken a decision to turn 60,000 sq km of Western Ghats into an Ecologically Sensitive Area, curbing human activity in order to protect the biodiversity hotspot from further assaults.

The CPI-M cadres in Idukki district alleged that Idukki and Wayanad districts would be the worst affected. They planned to strike work on Monday and Tuesday also.