Wayanad ghat road needs extra care

Wayanad ghat road needs extra care

TRAVELLING to Wayanad via the Thamarassery Ghat Road on holidays and weekends is nightmarish.

The 9-km stretch of the road is experiencing recurring traffic snarls despite pleas from various quarters to find a lasting solution to the problem of traffic coming to a full stop.

On Sunday, October 22, a huge truck got stuck mid-way on the Ghat Road, making commuting impossible. Another bus also got stuck, enhancing the misery. 

Tourists and passengers bound for Wayanad and Mysore, besides ambulances with patients, were caught in the jam, leaving them in the lurch for over 9 hours without food and water. The drive. otherwise, would have taken only 20 minutes. 

The Thamarassery Ghat Road is a major route connecting the district of Wayanad with the rest of Kerala. Wayanad, a hill station, is much enamoured by tourists. 

The district is popularised by its large amount of camping and trekking trails, breathtaking waterfalls, caves, bird-watching sites, flora, fauna and an overall plethora of magnificent sights. This is a much-favoured destination by tourists even from other states. Therefore, the influx of people to the district is unimaginable on holidays and weekends.

According to The Hindu, the absence of an effective accident recovery mechanism and the continuing delay in widening three of the nine hairpin curves are affecting the smooth flow of vehicles on the road.

The main reasons for the chaos are: narrow roads and bends make overtaking difficult for vehicles; surge in holiday traffic beyond its carrying capacity; and overloaded goods vehicles entering the road during holidays when traffic is at its peak.

There are solutions to end the bottleneck: restrict entry of multi-axle vehicles during holidays; make crane trucks and towing vehicles available to shift vehicles that meet with accidents; straightening the 6th, 7th, and 8th bends; construction of the 27.22-km-long alternative road from Poozhithode to Padinjarathara; and construction of the proposed 22-km-long Anakkampoyil-Kalladi-Meppadi Tunnel Road.

Traffic issues are not new to the travellers on Ghat Road. Ahead of Deepavali, Christmas and New Year, the huge traffic on the Ghat Road puts authorities on their toes. 

The demand to construct a 14-km bypass road for the Thamarassery Ghat Road is again gaining momentum as other options including temporary traffic regulations and a ban on way-side parking to decongest the mountain pass are yet to be effective in addressing the recurring traffic snarl-up.

About 30 organizations, including merchant forums and the Ghat Road Protection Committee, are working under an action committee to realize the project.

As a temporary measure, it was decided on Saturday to ban heavy vehicles from using the road from 3 pm to 9 pm on holidays and on Fridays preceding 2nd Saturday. On Mondays, heavy vehicles are banned from 6 am to 9 am.

The preliminary hiccups are to identify a suitable land for the airstrip which has been entrusted to the K-Rail team, which presently is still awaiting clearance for the Silverline high-speed railway line.

It is advisable to find suitable solutions before road users lose their patience lest the destination will be devoid of its charm as a tourist attraction. 

Meanwhile, the Kerala government is planning to set up an airstrip in Wayanad.