Landslide-hit Ooty-Kotagiri Road thrown open to light vehicles

Inflow of tourists expected to pick up

Udhagamandalam: With the natural calamity which occurred here a fortnight ago hitting badly the tourism dependent economy of this holiday destination, people belonging to the tourism industry are keeping their fingers crossed hoping that restoration works would be completed soon.

On Monday, they got something to cheer about thanks to the efforts of the Nilgiris Collector Anandrao V.Patil. The Ooty-Kotagiri Road was thrown open to light vehicle traffic in the presence of District Revenue Officer S.Kuppusamy.

Pointing out that temporary repairs had been carried out at Madithorai where a breach extending over 40 metres had occurred, the Divisional Engineer, Highways, T.S.Kandhasamy told The Hindu that 40,000 gunny bags filled with quarry dust and sand had been stacked with the help of casuarina poles to strengthen the road.

After carefully monitoring the situation for a few days and strengthening the road further, buses would be permitted.

However, heavy vehicles like lorries would continue to be diverted via Iduhatty till permanent restoration works were completed on Ooty-Kotagiri Main Road.

Owing to the catastrophe which caused extensive damage to the Mettupalayam-Coonoor-Ooty national highway and Mettupalayam-Kotagiri-Ooty Road, the inflow of tourists has been reduced to a trickle.

Consequently, the number of tourists visiting popular spots like the Government Botanical Garden, the Ooty lake, the Pykara lake and Dodabetta peak has been low for the last few days.

hough usually there is a spurt in the inflow during the weekends, the weekenders have been conspicuous by their absence over the last two weekends.

This is despite the fact that there is absolutely no difficulty in reaching this hill station from the Karnataka side.

Assistant Director of Horticulture M.Prakasam said that the flow was expected to pick up from the coming weekend.

Secretary of Nilgiri Hotels and Restaurants Association N.Chandrashekar said that all the hotels had been reporting very low occupancy for the last two weeks.

Since the conditions were now conducive for the flow of tourists to resume, he expressed the confidence that normalcy on the tourism front would be restored within a few days.

NMR restoration works

Setbacks in the form of fresh landslips notwithstanding the restoration works along the 38-km Kallar-Ooty stretch of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) is progressing as scheduled.

In a press note issued here on Monday, the Public Relations Officer, Salem Division, Om Prakash Narayan said that the track had been cleared for movement of the Ballast train up to 14 km from Mettupalayam. So far, over 9,000 cubic metres of mud and rock brought down by landslips had been removed from the track.

Out of the 111 places affected by landslides, 48 had been cleared. The Coonoor-Wellington section was now totally free of debris.

From THE HINDU

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