Rain exposes new weak spots in Nilgiris roads

Sources in national highways and state and highways departments said around Rs nine crore would be needed to restore the damaged roads from Mettupalayam to Ooty via Coonoor.
Representational image of Ooty, the Queen of Hill Stations. (EXPRESS PHOTO)
Representational image of Ooty, the Queen of Hill Stations. (EXPRESS PHOTO)

NILGIRIS: Land slips occurred in many new places during the recent down pour in the district that hitherto were not identified as vulnerable spots, national  highways officials have said.

According to sources, a total of 15 land slips occurred at different spots in a 20-km stretch between Wellington and Burliyar. A major landslide occurred at Nandhagopal bridge near Coonoor.

Sources in national highways and state and highways departments said around Rs nine crore would be needed to restore the damaged roads from Mettupalayam to Ooty via Coonoor.  and Mettupalayam to Kotagiri, etc.

An official said  “Soil loosened during the incessant rain and resulted in land slip. The main reason is that several fully grown trees on the ghat roads got uprooted by the gusty winds. We observed that landslides had occurred in new places instead of vulnerable places (which are identified earlier) during the recent down pour. We have sent a proposal to the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways `seven crore for restoring the roads permanently.”

The state highways department has sought Rs 2.4 crore to restore nine damaged places including the six areas in Kotagiri. Major landslide occurred at Kunjappanai that resulted in halt of vehicular movement between 5am to 3 pm on November 23.

“We are planning to replicate gabion wall in few places between Burliyar and Wellington as it successfully prevented landslide near Marappalam. Likewise, slope soil stabilization will also be replicated. Moreover, We (state highways) officials will replicate soil nailing technology between Mettupalayam to Kotagiri road once the state government sanction funds,” said the national and state highway officials.

The national highway officials also said that they are studying the model that is successfully implemented in hilly areas like Uttarakhand and replicate it in Nilgiris. Surjit K Chaudhary, chairman of the The Confederation of Environment Association (Kotagiri Chapter), who held various government positions in the Tamil Nadu between 1982 and December 2015, charged the highway officials with violating the Geological  Survey of India (GSI) norms.  z“I have been living for over 40 years in Nilgiris.

However I have not seen so many landslides and damage in one year. The curves in the hills are cut and roads widened without following GSI norms. Road widening work happened like in the plains without considering the damage to the ecology,” he added.

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