Small boulders scattered, vehicles stranded for three hours

Strong winds, coupled with moderate rains, uprooted trees at several places on the Batlagundu-Kodaikanal Ghat Road, disrupting traffic in the early hours of Monday.

Small boulders were scattered at Vadakaraiparai and Mayiladumparai, and near Perumal Malai.

Vehicles were stranded on the ghat road for three hours. Officials of the Highways and Revenue Departments cleared the trees in the morning.

Many aged trees on the hilly slopes are vulnerable to strong winds and heavy rains. Loose soil and small rocks falling down from cliffs and high ridges of the hill is common during rainy days. The condition has become worse this summer after a strong gale and torrential rains rocked the hill station last week.

Lack of communication causes inordinate delay in rescue operations, say road-users. In the dense forest areas, mobile phones will not function at many places because of poor connectivity. It will take at least an hour to establish contact with officials at Kodaikanal. Someone should reach an area where there is connectivity to contact the officials.

Every year, tour operators and volunteers appeal to the district police to establish an outpost equipped with a landline phone connection, at least at one place, on the ghat road. Now, the police or a rescue team has to reach the spot from either Kodaikanal or Batlagundu.

Furthermore, it will take at least one-and-a-half hours to reach the nearest police station. Traffic snarls will prevent people from reaching the police or Revenue Department officials, say cab operators. The flow of tourists, which dipped after the rains, has picked up at the weekend. The number of vehicles on the ghat road has gone up since Saturday evening. Police officers say the movement of private vehicles will peak in the morning and the evening, which are ideal for tourists to leave and reach the hill station.