Kozhikode: The Wayanad ropeway project may end up as a curse if implemented without proper environment impact study, according to Greens and whistleblowers. The Western Ghats Development Company, launched to execute the project, plans to set it up on the most ecologically sensitive spot-the top of the 9th curve of wayanad ghat road, it is pointed out.
Moves are afoot to purchase a plantation of 18 acres which is also caught in land disputes, including one with the land tribunal for illegal landholdings. Rather than a developmental project, it is a real estate venture initiated by various chambers of commercial interests, according to a note sent to this paper by a whistleblower.
One side of the identified land is the critical stretch of the Thamarassery ghat road connecting Wayanad and Kozhikode districts and the other side is forest. The steep mountain pass had even witnessed aseries of landslides, severing the connectivity between the two districts, during the recent torrential rains.
Green activist C.S. Dharmaraj of Wayanad told DC that the stretch had been enlisted as the most fragile spot under threat in the western ghats region by the expert panel that was constituted after a series of landslides in the region in 2009.
The panel consisting of experts from CESS, KFRI and CWRDM had called for caution in implementing any development projects in the zone. "As warned by the panel, the area witnessed a chain of landslides and landslips during this monsoon," said Dharmaraj. The traffic through the ghat section of National Highway 766 was regulated for many weeks. "The earth work and concrete piling for constructing the huge tower of the ropeway will damage not only the existing ghat road but also the ecologically sensitive region," he pointed out.
However, the brains behind the project dismiss the allegations as baseless. Recently a company, Western Ghats Development Limited, also was formed. Its chairman E.P. Mohandas told DC that the project will not create any such ecological impact.
"It is true that the project is coming atop the 9th curve but we have plans to purchase only two acres of land, which is yet to be realised," he added. "There is no other spot where the project could be ideally implemented," he said and added that all precautions will be taken in the matter.