Chamundi Hill road widening; Forest department says 'No'

Risks of land slide, disturbance to reserve forest ecology, cited as reasons

Chamundi Hill road widening; Forest department says 'No'

While the Public Works Department is awaiting a clearance from the Regional Office of Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), for widening of a road atop the Chamundi Hill, sources in the Forest department say that the proposed project would be a recipe for disaster.

It can be recalled that a proposal was submitted for four laning of roads, from View Point to Mahishasura Statue, considering the traffic pile up witnessed during peak tourist season.

“The first proposal submitted by Public Works Department (PWD) for widening in March 2012, was rejected by the Forest department. The department had then asked PWD to submit a revised proposal, which was submitted around six months ago,” said Sreenivas, section officer of PWD.

In the revised proposal, PWD has reduced its projection of the land required for widening of the road. However, works on Chamundi Hill, which is a reserve forest, has not yet been sanctioned, he said. Works estimated at around Rs four crore, will be taken up as soon as PWD gets permission from the MoEF regional office, he said.

The expansion was proposed by the then district in-charge minister S A Ramdas and former Police Commissioner Sunil Agarwal, which was met with severe opposition from environmentalists.

Land slide

Sources in the Forest department told Deccan Herald that the widening works when taken up, would be in an elevated area.

“Soil in the region is fragile and widening will aggravate the risk of land slides. That is one of the reasons why Forest department has opposed the widening works,” the source said.

On the revised proposal sought by the Forest department, the source said that PWD had earlier asked for an area of seven meters to the left of the road. Following the demand for a revised proposal, the extent of land sought has been reduced from seven to five metres.

“If the road is widened, debris will be dumped along the sides while works are taken up, disturbing the ecology of the reserve forest. There are other factors, which prompted the Forest department to deny concurrence for the works,” the source said.

Traffic problem

Traffic pile up atop the Hill is seen only during days such as Ashada Friday, festivals and weekends.

“The existing measures have been successful in regulating traffic. There is enough Revenue land atop the Hill, where parking arrangements can be made. Making alternative arrangements for shops that have sprung up along the sides of the road, is another way to ensure smooth flow of traffic, rather than widening,” the source added.

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