Greens up in arms against Anakkampoyil-Meppadi tunnel project

The camel hump mountain, including Chembra and Vellarimala peaks, in Wayanad on the western Ghats. The proposed tunnel road will pass through the mountain.   | Photo Credit: C.K. Vishnudas

Environmental organisations have urged the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) not to clear the application of the Public Works Department (PWD) seeking allotment of forestland for the construction of the proposed Anakkampoyil-Meppadi tunnel road, an alternative to the Thamarassery Ghat Road linking Kozhikode and Wayanad districts.

The project envisages the construction of a 6.8-km tunnel on the Anakkampoyil -Kalladi-Meppadi route to decongest the Thamarassery Ghat Road.

In a letter to the MoEFCC, Wayanad Prakruthi Samrakshana Samiti president N. Badusha said that according to the application submitted by the Executive Engineer, PWD (Kozhikode), the project required 51.370 hectares, including 34.304 hectares of forestland, spread over four villages.

The application said the construction of the four-lane tunnel could cost ₹2,080 crore, and that it could bring down the time taken to travel from Kozhikode to Mysore considerably. The project will give a fillip to tourism, industry, and agriculture, it said.

At the same time, the application did not mention studies to be done prior to the launch of the project such as environmental impact study, assessment of possible damage to biodiversity, and loss of water sources in the project area, Mr. Badusha said.

The Samiti urged the MoEFCC to consider the latest study on landslide-prone areas in the region by the Geological Survey of India before approving the project.

Incidentally, the rock structure at the opening of the proposed tunnel at Swargamkunnu is in a dangerous state after the loss of tree coverage on its slope.

The eastern slopes of the region are landslip-prone, and landslip sites such as Puthulama and Mudakkai near Meppadi are on hill slopes.

Mr. Badusha said the proposed project would not help tourism, industry and agrarian sectors. If the five ghat roads connecting Wayanad with neighbouring districts are strengthened, travel-related issues can be effectively resolved, he added.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 8:40:52 AM |

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