Forest road to be opened to traffic

Ending the long wait, the renovated Alimukku-Achankovil road will be thrown open for traffic on Tuesday.

Cutting across three forest divisions including Punalur, Achankovil and Konni, the 37-km road connects Kollam and Pathanamthitta districts to Mekkarai-Achankovil inter-State route. This is also the shortest route for the pilgrims from Tamil Nadu to reach the temples in Achankovil and Sabarimala.

In the 37 kms, the 4.5 km from Alimukku to Karavoor is PWD road while the next 10.5 km distance upto Kottakayam falls under Punalur Forest Division. The road upto Mullumala had been leased to State Farming Corporation while the other stretches come under Punalur Forest Division, Konni Forest Division, Achankovil Forest Division and Piravathur grama panchayat. The project was completed by the Forest Department spending โ‚น13.84 crore.

โ€œSince the road comes under different departments, the entire stretch was never renovated at the same time. It was left in a pathetic condition for more than one decade and the residents had been struggling. It takes nearly three hours to cover around 40 kms and bus services are also minimal due to the condition of the road,โ€ said an official.

More than 3,000 residents living in two wards of Aryankavu panchayat are completely dependent on the road and they have been facing connectivity issues for several years.

โ€œThere have been many complaints regarding the condition of the road and some residents had lost their lives due to the lack of timely medical assistance. The residents of Chembanaruvi village that falls under Konni forest division will also benefit from this road,โ€ he added.

Apart from bringing cheer to the residents, the road is expected to boost tourism in the area and expedite development in the tribal region.

4 lakh pilgrims

โ€œNearly 4 lakh of pilgrims from Tamil Nadu visit Achankovil temple every year and an equal number of tourists come to Kumbhavurutty waterfalls. This road can be developed as a tourism circuit as it also offers access to Konni eco-tourism centre,โ€ he said.

Forest Minister K.Raju will inaugurate the road on Tuesday.

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