Kozhikode/Wayanad: Kerala Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan virtually launched the construction work of the longest road tunnel in the state on Monday.
With the launch, the long-cherished dream of the people of erstwhile Malabar region for a hassle-free and easy alternate route to the hilly district of Wayanad have blossomed.
The longest road tunnel in the state and the third longest in the country, the Rs 658-crore project is being implemented by the Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) and is being funded by the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB).
The 6.8 km long road tunnel passing through the western Ghat starts at Swargam Kunnu in nearby Kodenchery panchayat in Kozhikode district and will end at Kalladi near Meppadi in Wayanad district.
A 70-meter long bridge across Iruvanjippuzha will also be constructed as part of the two-lane tunnel connected highway.
It was recently that the KRCL had conducted a comprehensive survey of the proposed road linking Anakkampoyil in Kozhikode and Meppadi in Wayanad. A road bridge at Iruvanjippuzha will also be constructed as part of the two-lane tunnel connected highway.
The new road passing through the tunnel will provide a better and hassle-free alternative link to the present Thamaraserry-Lakkidi ghat road. The present road connecting the two districts passes through the Wayanad ghat section, better known as `Thamaraerry churam’, along National Highway 212.
The Ghat road begins at Adivaram near Thamarassery in Kozhikode and ends at Lakkidi in Wayanad district. Having nine hairpin bends on the 13-km Ghat road section, the traffic on this narrow and landslip-prone road gets crippled quite often due to one or the other reason. Minor landslides and damage of protection walls either blocked or narrowed the roads often.
The new road tunnel once commissioned will reduce the distance between the districts by nearly 19 kms, from a present 73 kms to 54 kms, between Kalpetta and Calicut. The new road will also give much relief to passengers to Malappuram and Kannur side. The project is expected to be completed in three years time.