The Kerala government is moving forward with the proposed Wayanad tunnel road despite the objections raised by environmentalists.
The proposed 6.8 km tunnel project would run between Anakampoyil in Kozhikode and Meppadi in Wayanad.
The proposed project is intended for the construction of Twin Tunnel with the four-lane approach road. It runs almost parallel to the Thamarasserry ghat road.
On 6 October 2020, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan unveiled the blueprint for the 6.8-kilometer tunnel road project, which is touted as the country's third longest underpass.
The survey for the tunnel construction started in September 2020.
Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) was hired to complete the Rs 900 crore project.
The tunnel road is an outcome of decades-long push for an alternate road, since the Thamarassery Ghat Road is congested and frequently obstructed by landslides during heavy monsoons.
The tunnel road is also expected to relieve traffic congestion on the Wayanad ghat road (NH-766) between Kerala and Karnataka. On completion, the road tunnel would significantly reduce the travel time between Kozhikode and Bengaluru.
The proposed tunnel road would give a fillip to tourism, industry and agrarian sectors in the region.
Mohammed Riyas, the minister of public works for Kerala, informed the Assembly on Thursday (2 February) that the forest authorities were reviewing the application for a forest clearance, while the land acquisition process for the tunnel was moving forward.
The state government was considering the possibility of a tunnel road because it has proven difficult to obtain clearance from forest authorities to expand the ghat road.
"Norwegian technology would be considered for the tunnel. The tunnel would play a key role in the comprehensive development of Wayanad," said Riyas, reports Deccan Herald.
During his visit to Norway in October of last year, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the Norwegian government signed a memorandum of understanding for the transfer of technology for the tunnel road.
This technology will aid in understanding the nature of rocks found at depths of up to seven kilometres. Furthermore, the group will work together to study soil and coastal erosion.
The Norwegian expert team visited the proposed project site in November.
The state government has also submitted proposals to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways for the development of the Thamarasserry ghat road. Possibilities for constructing the hairpins were also being considered, according to the minister.
Under the 'Parvat Mala' scheme, a ropeway parallel to the Thamarasserry ghat road was also proposed to the centre, Riyas added.
Environmentalists had expressed grave concerns over the tunnel project, as it passes through parts of the Chembramala-Vellarimala Camel Hump complex, which is one of the Western Ghats' ecologically sensitive zones.
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