The road would both boost tourism by cutting down travel time from Theni to Top Station, and also help tribals in the Kurangani Hills with better connectivity, officials said
The Highways Department engineers here have embarked upon a mega road project — to step up tourism from Bodi to Top Station, by saving tourists at least 75 kilometres of road travel, and also to help the tribals in the Kurangani Hills.
Presently, tourists visiting Top Station from Theni have to drive 105 kilometres through Munnar in Kerala. With the planned new road spanning 14 km from Kurangani, tourists could reach Top Station in less than 90 minutes.
“As a first step, the Highways engineers have completed a field survey, by spending ₹13.29 lakh,” said E. Murugesan, Divisional Engineer, Highways, Theni district. The project would cost ₹50 crore in all. The Tamil Nadu government has to earmark funds for the project and give its stamp of approval. As and when there is a green signal, the tender process would be in place by January 2021, he said.
The land to be acquired is lying with the Revenue and Forest Departments, officials said and added that Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam had supported the project from the nascent stage after the tribal population submitted representations for better road access from the hills to plains.
Balamurugan, a tourist operator in Bodi, said the project would be a double delight for both the tourism and agriculture industry. Day tours to Top Station would become a reality from Theni district. From the farmers side, this would facilitate faster movement of the produce grown by tribals to the markets here, he said.
After the roads were laid to Megamalai from Chinnamanur, the number of tourists climbing up the hill increased significantly from what it was five years ago, he said and added that good connectivity would give an impetus to the tourism sector.
John Bosco, who works as a marketing executive in a private resort in Bodi, said that to reach Top Station, a destination within Tamil Nadu, people had to take a circuitous route by going to Munnar in Kerala. The road project from Kurangani to Top Station would be a boon, he said.
Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam told The Hindu on Tuesday that the road would fulfil a long-pending demand of the tribals as many people especially, women and the elderly, found it difficult to even reach the Primary Health Care centres with ease. The project should bring cheer to the people, he said.