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Ponmudi Hills reopens to tourists, sees fairly good turnout on day 1

Numbers likely to rise in coming days; condition of hill station road matter of concern

Published: 24th February 2022 07:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th February 2022 07:06 AM   |  A+A-

Ponmudi Hills

Ponmudi Hills

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: After a gap of nearly a month and a half, Ponmudi, the famed hill station in the capital district reopened for tourists on Wednesday. The authorities had restricted access to the hill station owing to the third wave of the pandemic and also due to the poor condition of roads that were severely damaged in the rains late last year.

Besides Ponmudi, eco tourism centres like Kallar-Meenmutty and Mankayam have also reopened on Wednesday. According to Thiruvananthapuram Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) K I Pradeepkumar, the inflow of visitors in Ponmudi was “fairly good” on day one, despite being a weekday. The numbers are likely to  increase in the coming days, especially during the weekend. Kallar too witnessed a good  turnout of tourists, he added.

The online booking system for entry to Ponmudi is likely to be introduced after a week, he said. “The online facility is operational but we are planning a sensitisation programme for our staff in view of a likely increase in the number of visitors over the coming days,” the DFO said. Even on weekdays, Ponmudi records at least 400-500 visitors. On holidays and weekends, the number of visitors climbs 10 fold to 3,000-4,000, forest department officials said.

According to Vamanapuram MLA D K Murali, there was a huge demand from tourists to allow access to the hill station after the Covid restrictions were eased. No major restrictions have been placed apart from the general advisory being given to the tourists. “In order to prevent overcrowding, tourists have been advised not to stay in the upper sanatorium for more than two hours,” he added.

However, the bad condition of the road to the hill station remains a matter of concern. During the heavy rain that lashed the region in October last year, landslips were reported at 15 of the 22 hairpin curves from Kallar to Ponmudi hilltop. In addition, a crack had also developed on the road between hairpin 11 and 12. The Thiruvananthapuram-Ponmudi road was handed over a few months ago from PWD Roads wing to the Kerala State Transport Project (KSTP) for development of the 37.9-km stretch from Nedumangad to Ponumdi. Work on the `167.69 crore project is under way.

“Owing to the urgent need to restore traffic in full swing, we have started repairing the damaged stretches. Construction of retaining walls in a few places is currently underway,” said a senior KSTP official.



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