From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : About the Tunnel, EIA
Mains level : NA
Kerala CM has launched a tunnel road project that would connect Kozhikode with Wayanad.
Try this PYQ:
Q.From the ecological point of view, which one of the following assumes importance in being a good link between the Eastern Ghats and the Western Ghats?
(a) Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve
(b) Nallamala Forest
(c) Nagarhole National Park
(d) Seshachalam Biosphere Reserve
Kozhikode-Wayanad Tunnel Project
- The 7-km tunnel, being described as the third-longest in the country, is part of an 8-km road cutting through sensitive forests and hills of the Western Ghats.
- Its endpoints are at Maripuzha in Thiruvambady village panchayat (Kozhikode) and Kalladi in Meppadi panchayat (Wayanad).
- The tunnel is an outcome of a decades-long campaign for an alternative road as the Thamarassery Ghat Road is congested and gets blocked by landslides during heavy monsoon.
How will the road impact the ecology?
- The Forest Department has identified the proposed route as a highly sensitive patch comprising evergreen and semi-evergreen forests, marshlands and shola tracts.
- This region is part of an elephant corridor spread between Wayanad and Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu.
- Two major rivers, Chaliyar and Kabani that flows to Karnataka, originate from these hills in Wayanad.
- Eruvazhanjipuzha, a tributary of Chaliyar and the lifeline of settlements in Malappuram and Kozhikode, begins in the other side of the hills.
- The region, known for torrential rain during the monsoon, has witnessed several landslides, including in 2019 at Kavalappura near Nilambur and at Puthumala, Meppadi in Wayanad.
Environmental clearance issues
- Proponents of the project have been stressing that the tunnel will not destroy forest (trees).
- The MoEFCC guidelines state that the Forest Act would apply not only to surface area but the entire underground area beneath the trees.
- For tunnel projects, conditions relating to underground mining would be applicable.
- As the proposed tunnel is 7 km long, it will require emergency exit points and air ventilation wells among other measures, which would impact the forest further.