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29 Feb 2024, Edition - 3152, Thursday

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Greens call for brake on Manjoor-Karamadai road expansion plan

Prasath Selvaraj


Nature enthusiast and NGOs have come out strongly against proposal for expansion and repair of the Manjoor-Karamadai road as a third alternative one to connect Coimbatore with the Nilgiris.

According to sources, the Manjoor to Karamadai route is of 60 km passing through Geddhai, Mulli and Velliangadu. This was under control of forest department and TNEB.

Already there are two major routes via Burliar-Coonoor and Kotagiri to connect the two districts.

A highways department official said extension and repair of the damaged Manjoor-Karamadai route at an expense of Rs500 crore was proposed by the department as an alternative to Burliar and Kotagiri to ease traffic congestion and owing to landslides during heavy rain on the Burliar route.

Of this, Rs 135 crore would be spent for extension of the road and the rest for converting it to a two-lane track and 250 acre would be acquired for this project. Around 500 hectares in Sholur would be given to the forest department, he added.

Osai founder K Kalidas told The Covai Post that the areas along the Manjoor-Karamadai route were part of the very sensitive Nilgiris Biosphere Region (NBR). Already there has been functioning of vehicles of forest and TNEB, besides tribespeople and general traversing through the area.

There is an elephant movement in this area throughout the year due to presence of Kuntha dam and Bhavani. Also elephants from Sathyamangalam, Mudumali and Bandipur pass through this area to reach Silent Valley forest in Kerala through Mulli.

Owing to continuous vehicle movement on the Burliar route, there was huge disturbance to elephants at crossings between Sathyamangalam and Kerala.

There are four hornbill species in the Western Ghats region, of which the Great Pied Hornbill and the Malabar Pied Hornbill are found in large numbers in this area. Commercialisation of the route would directly impact wildlife and the ecosystem and add to the noise and atmosphere pollution. Compared to Burliar, the Manjoor route would be longer by 30km and would have 40 hairpin bends.

Destruction of forest and giving alternative land to the department would destroy natural resource. Kalidas said he had written to the Chief Minister to give up the expansion proposal. If needed, the matter would be taken to court.

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