Old Aluva-Munnar Road revival rejected 15 years ago – the New Indian Express


Express news service

KOCHI: As the government plans to revive the Old Aluva – Munnar route through the pristine evergreen forests of Pooyamkutty, a study report submitted by the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) in 2005 warns of the environmental sensitivity of the section is gaining importance. .

KFRI had carried out an environmental impact study on the opening of the section in 2005 following a request from the National Center for Planning and Transport Research (NATPAC), for the route of the hill highway. The study rejected the proposal to develop the road, pointing out that it would fragment the nearly 400 km² area of ​​contiguous forest in the Pooyamkutty Valley.

The 1,251 km long hill road crosses the state’s hill ranges connecting 13 of the 14 districts. The highway starts from Nandarappadavu in Kasaragod district and extends to Parassala in Thiruvananthapuram district.

“The Pooyamkutty forest is of great value in terms of diversity, contiguity, proximity to protected areas and is prone to soil erosion. The Pooyamkutty-Perumbankuthu link crosses dense reed forests, semi-evergreen and evergreen. The old oxcart route was abandoned 81 years ago (in 1924) following a landslide and was covered by the growth of the forest, leaving no trace of the old footbridge, but remains of the old bridge washed away during the floods.

“There are no settlements that can use the road link through this route. The road link will fragment nearly 400 km2 of contiguous forest in the Pooyamkutty Valley, ”the report said. The report suggests the development of an alternative route passing through Kuttampuzha, Mamalakandam, Avarkutty, Anakulam and Mankulam. He said reopening the old alignment would only serve to destroy the forest. The development of the Mamalakandam road will facilitate better access to the tribal settlements, he said.

The environmental impact assessment report prepared by KFRI scientists S Sankar and P Vijayakumaran Nair assigns the Pooyamkutty-Perumbankuthu alignment a negative score of minus (-) 64. This is due to the effect on soil quality and water holes. Finally, the quality of the landscape will be severely damaged, the report warns.

The environmental quality of the section was judged to be very high in terms of landscape characteristics, contiguity, aesthetics, floral and wildlife diversity, wildlife habitat, density of watercourses and cultural significance.
“Areas without roads are essential because they represent the least disturbed habitats by humans in an almost universally disturbed landscape. These wild areas provide us with reservoirs of genetic material and are benchmarks for experimental restoration efforts in intensively managed landscapes, ”the report says.
NATPAC had abandoned the project based on the report.

A path through the dense forest
The forest section of the Old Aluva-Munnar road crosses the Kuttampuzha forest chain under the Malayattur forest division. From Pooyamkutty, the road runs along the left bank of the Pooyamkutty river to the shelter of Kunjiar camp. In Kunchiyar, the road crosses the stream, while the road to Avarkutty used by the reed cutters runs parallel to the stream. The bridge was washed away in the floods of 1924. The road heads northeast and reaches the banks of Karinthiriyar and turns east parallel to the river. The vegetation is dense with evergreen foliage interspersed with reeds. The ground is loose and extremely vulnerable to slipping.

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