Greens pitch e-pass entry system for Wayanad modelled on Ooty and Kodaikanal

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A hairpin bend on the Wayanad-Kozhikode ghat road. File photo: Manorama

Wayanad: Environmentalists have come up with a demand that the state government implement an e-pass system modelled on Ooty and Kodaikanal in Wayanad. The Tamil Nadu government, acting on a recent High Court order has initiated measures to ensure an e-pass system to regulate the flow of tourists to the prominent hill destinations of Ooty and Kodaikanal. The High Court, Chennai ordered instituting an e-pass system to bring down the passage of tourists' vehicles through the ghat roads, to reduce excessive footfalls at the destinations and to minimise the ecological impact.

Spurred by this order, the Wayanad Prakrithi Samrakshana Samithy has also sent a letter to the Chief Minister and District Collector, demanding the implementation of an e-pass system to regulate the number of tourists in the Wayanad district. The organization also called for the appointment of an expert panel to assess the pressure on the environment due to the huge tourist inflow. The organization also alleged that the number of tourists visiting the district every month is almost double the number of the population in the district. The high influx of tourists has already battered the social life of the agrarian community and the extreme impact on the ghat roads and jungle roads is yet to be assessed.

WPSS president N Badusha said that the organization would explore other legal means if the state government fails to address the issues faced by the people due to the inflow of tourists. Various tourist destinations of Wayanad including Edakkal Caves, En Ooru and Kuruva Islands have already ensured an advanced booking system, to minimize the pressure of tourists to the destination. However, the tourism fraternity of the district came out heavily on the demand of the Greens, saying that such restrictions would hit the tourism industry of the district which is already facing various troubles. '' Without any restrictions, the number of tourists to the district has dwindled due to recurring wildlife attacks, heat and water scarcity,'' said CP Sailesh, secretary of the Wayanad Tourism Organization (WTO), a leading organisation of stakeholders in the industry.

''With around 3000 resorts catering to the hospitality industry with 3 to 50 rooms per property, more than 60000 residents of Wayanad depend on the industry, directly and indirectly, to earn a living. If there are traffic snarls on Ghat road, go for constructing alternative roads and bring in long-term solutions for drought, water scarcity and ensure better destination management,'' he said.

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