Activists and local residents, who regularly use the Udhagamandalam – Kotagiri Road, have called on the Forest Department to come up with contingency measures that will reduce chances of traffic becoming gridlocked due to excessive number of tourist vehicles trying to reach Doddabetta Peak in Udhagamandalam.
Local residents said that each year, the stretch becomes inundated with traffic, with the stretch between Doddabetta Junction and Charring Cross becoming gridlocked during the summer tourist season. The traffic along the stretch is due to vehicles coming to a standstill due to the narrow, damaged roads, they said.
Forest officials said that each day, during the summer tourist season, over 1,200 private vehicles, mostly cars and vans proceed to Doddabetta Peak from Udhagamandalam, resulting in huge traffic snarls all along the route. Tourist taxi drivers said that during the summer season, the less than seven km route from Charring Cross to the Doddabetta Peak could take as much as 90 minutes to cover.
V. Sivadas, Managing Trustee of the Nilgiri Environment and Cultural Service Trust, said that the forest department, which runs the Eco-Development Committee managing the tourism activities in Doddabetta Peak, should come up with contingency measures that would serve to reduce the amount of traffic that reaches the peak from the town during the season, thereby easing traffic along the route.
“A limit on the number of private vehicles being allowed to reach the peak at any given time, or more shuttle services run by the department could reduce traffic,” said Mr. Sivadas.
There is also concern among conservationists about the impact the traffic will have on local wildlife.
N. Sadiq Ali, Founder of the Wildlife and Nature Conservation Trust, said the department should post forest staff along the way to the peak from the forest check-post, to ensure that motorists do not stop their vehicles. Forest officials said that the department was considering running shuttle services from Charring Cross to Doddabetta Peak during the tourist season to reduce vehicular traffic.