A sum of Rs. 20 crore has been released by the NHAI

With the weather and other factors like poor maintenance having accelerated the deterioration of the Burliar- Ooty- Kakkanullah stretch of the National Highway 67, the demand to hand back the ghat road to the state highways is getting stronger in this hilly district.

Following a suggestion made about a decade ago that the stretch should become part of the National Highways to ensure that its condition enhances the prestige of this holiday destination, it was handed over to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) about seven years ago.

Regrettably the interest generated and the hopes raised by the move notwithstanding, the appalling condition of the road has become a major source of concern to all sections of the society here.

In particular, the stretch beyond Pykara is now riddled with ruts and potholes.

Official sources told The Hindu here on Sunday that already a request has been made to restore the Burliar- Ooty- Gudalur stretch to the State Highways.

Pointing out that a sum of Rs. 20 crore has been released by the NHAI to carry out repairs, the sources said that the Authority has also been urged to hand over the Gudalur- Kakkanullah stretch to the State Highways. The formalities are expected to be completed after the damages are set right.

Meanwhile, the Project Director, NHAI, Ganesh Kumar Saride, said that agreements have been drawn up for Rs. 16 crore.

Stating that half the amount will be spent only on improving the Pykara- Kakkanullah stretch, which was in need of immediate attention, he said that work will be taken up after the rains in December and completed by February. Crash barriers will be laid over about 5,000 metres.

Opining that ghat roads should always be under the control of the state governments and the respective District Collectors, he said that if a good restoration job has to be done from Burliar to Kakkanullah covering a distance of about 114 km, a sum of Rs. 200 crore would be required.

To a question, he said that pressure on the road has increased considerably over the years and added that it has not been designed to handle the kind of traffic it is forced to cope with now.

Stating that the NHAI is concerned about the inconvenience caused to the people on account of the poor condition of the road, he said that the Authority has urged the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to withdraw from it.