Staff Reporter

Arrival of vegetables from Tamil Nadu affected; prices go up

  • Sabarimala pilgrims put to hardship
  • Tourism potential of Thekkady hit

    KOTTAYAM: The decision of the Tamil Nadu Government to close the Kollam-Theni NH 220 following heavy damages to the road at Erachilpaalam, near Kumily, has hit life on both sides of the border and put Sabarimala pilgrims to much hardship.

    Traffic from Tamil Nadu to Kerala is now diverted from Kumbum via Kumbummettu, Kochara, Anakkara to Kumily. Traffic is also being diverted from Kumbumettu via Chettukuzhi, Puttadi, Anakkara to Kumily.

    The effect of the closure of NH 220 has already had its impact on the economy of Kumily town. The arrival of vegetables from Tamil Nadu has been hit and prices have risen, says Ravi, who runs a hotel in the town. "They have already started passing on the increase in expenses to the buyers." "The arrival of clients from across the border has come down," he says pointing to the empty tables.

    Earlier, he had regular patrons from Lower Camp during the evenings. The tourism industry will also face a setback on account of the closure of NH220, which is the lifeline of the people on both the sides of the border.

    Thekkady had a regular flow of visitors from Tamil Nadu who arrived here for boating. Their travel plans would now have to be altered. Dozens of hotels in Thekkady that operate conducted tours to Kumbum and Theni areas in Tamil Nadu will also face problems.

    Besides, the road transport department does not have a check-post at Kumbummettu to issue entry pass for vehicles. Their check-post is at Kumily.

    Those on the other side of the border also have their share of problems. The worst hit will be the farmers, especially those who are engaged in fruits trade. Grapes for the Gulf countries are harvested by the evening and packed fresh and brought to Kochi airport via Kumily for the morning flight.

    Their business may be affected by the road closure. The vegetable farmers from Tamil Nadu will be hit as Kerala has been the biggest market for their perishable commodity. With the onset of the pilgrim season, hundreds of Sabarimala pilgrims who used to take the Kumily route will have to travel a longer distance. Besides, the alternative routes are in a bad state.

    The NH 220 was closed following the damages caused to the Erachilpaalam Bridge and the stretch of the highway nearby in the flash floods caused by the opening of the shutters of the Four Bay dam near Kumily by Tamil Nadu authorities.

    The maintenance work is already on, but it may take some time before the road becomes ready for vehicular traffic, it is pointed out.