Kozhikode-Wayanad Tunnel Road

#GS3 #Infrastructure #Development

Recently, the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan “launched” a tunnel road project that would connect Kozhikode with Wayanad.

 

What is this Kozhikode-Wayanad tunnel road?

  • The 7-km tunnel, being described as the third-longest in the country, is part of an 8-km road cutting through sensitive forests and hills of the Western Ghats.
  • Its endpoints are at Maripuzha in Thiruvambady village panchayat (Kozhikode) and Kalladi in Meppadi panchayat (Wayanad).
  • At present, Wayanad plateau is linked to the rest of Kerala via four roads, all with hilly sections, the longest being the 13-km Thamarassery Ghat Road along the Kozhikode-Mysuru NH 766.
  • The tunnel road is an outcome of a decades-long campaign for an alternative road as the Thamarassery Ghat Road is congested and gets blocked by landslides during heavy monsoon.
  • A proposal for widening the road has been pending clearance from the MoEFCC. Two alternative routes have been suggested connecting different parts of Kozhikode district to Wayanad, but those proposals did not make much headway either, mainly because of forest patches that would need to be cleared.

 

How did this plan for a tunnel road emerge?

  • At the very route of the proposed tunnel road, a surface road had been debated since the 1970s, but did not take off because forest land was involved. In 2015, the government finally ordered a survey by a private agency for a road through the forest between Maripuzha and Kalladi. The agency found the surface road an uphill task, but suggested cutting a tunnel with entry and exit points in private lands close to the forest.
  • When Metro pioneer E Sreedharan was approached for support from Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, he suggested Konkan Railway Corporation (KRC) take it up. In 2019, the government engaged KRC as a special purpose vehicle for the survey, detailed project report (DPR) and project execution on a turnkey basis.
  • The government gave administrative sanction for the project earlier this year and promised Rs 658 crore from Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB).

 

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