December 11, 2016
Udhagamandalam: Dependent mainly on the winding ghat roads to either ascend to towns like Ooty or descend to places like Mettupalayam and Mysuru, both locals and visitors have for some time been at their wit’s end.
The reason being the growing traffic related problems on account of the mismatch between the existing infrastructure and the increasing pressure brought about by the steadily escalating volume of traffic.
The situation has forced the travelling public to take precautions which were hither to not witnessed.
A study by The Covai Post revealed that people, particularly those heading for the airports or railway stations in Coimbatore, Mysuru or Bengaluru, have started leaving for their destinations much earlier than usual. Their fear was that mishaps, even minor ones, could hold up traffic for hours together. They pointed out that quite often two or more vehicles brush against each other on some part of the narrow road and the resultant frayed tempers bring traffic to standstill.
Expressing the view that there was no immediate solution to this, the Nilgiris Regional Transport Officer D Venkatraman pointed out that over the years, there has been a phenomenal increase in the number of vehicles using the roads. Stating that the total number of cars, buses, lorries and vans registered in the Nilgiris alone was about 60,000, he said that many of them regularly use the highways in the ghat section.
In addition, every day about 2,000 vehicles from outside come to the hills through the Mettupalayam-Ooty road and about ,1000 more through the Mysuru-Ooty road. During weekends, there is a significant increase in the inflow. Stating that proper management was the only way to mitigate hardships, Venkatraman said that banning multi-axle vehicles will not help.
He pointed out that highway patrols have for some time now been regulating traffic on the ghat roads. Wherever possible the Ooty-Mettupalayam road has been widened.
To a query, he said that an alternative road could help reduce pressure on that road.
However, green activist K Vijay opined that the provision of alternative road will only aggravate ecological problems. He added that already the elephant corridor at Kallar near Mettupalayam has been affected by the unregulated movement of vehicles. The roads have not been designed for 16 or 18 ton vehicles.
Airing the grievances of tourists, Nilgiri Hotels and Restaurants Association secretary N Chandrashekar said that complaints relating to the roads were on the rise. Often tourists were forced to check in late because their vehicles were held up for a long time on the Mettupalayam road or the Mysuru road. Though the Ooty-Kotagiri-Mettupalayam road was in a good condition the Ooty-Coonoor-Mettupalayam road continues to be the preferred one.