In an attempt to take tourism along the Western Ghats to new heights, a three-km-long ropeway project linking Kozhikode and Wayanad districts has been proposed.
A feasibility study for the facility, which will connect Adivaram in Kozhikode district and Lakkidi in Wayanad, is under way. The construction of the ropeway is expected to substantially enhance tourist footfalls at the picturesque hill station besides helping to decongest the ghat road.
The project proposed by the Wayanad Chamber of Commerce in coordination with the Wayanad District Tourism Promotion Council, Kozhikode Chamber of Commerce, and the Dubai Chambers of Commerce will be executed by a Kolkata-based company, Conveyor Ropeway Services Private Limited, at a cost of about Rs 50 crore.
Cable car service to lure travelers
The cable cars with a seating capacity of six each would ensure a smooth ride between Adivaram and Lakkidi, with the bonus of experiencing the breathtaking, panoramic view of the surroundings.
The cabins will be attached from above on a cable and the system would run on the 15 supporting towers located between the upper and lower stations. Ropeways are perfectly safe and they add to the excitement, representatives of the district chamber of commerce said.
Cover the distance in just 18 minutes
The 12-km-long stretch between Lakkidi and Adivaram has steep gradients and sharp and narrow bends besides nine hairpin curves. It takes about 30-45 minutes by vehicle to reach the hilltop. The cable cars with a speed of 3.5 meters per second would cover the distance from the foothill to the top in just 18 minutes.
Initially, there will be as many as 150 cable cars operating at a frequency of 15 seconds. As many as 480 passengers would be able to avail the service at a time.
Plans afoot to acquire land
“We have held the initial round of discussions on the feasibility of the project with the chief minister, minister for tourism, tourism director, MLAs representing Kalpetta and Thiruvambady assembly constituencies, and the Kozhikode collector. The response so far has been very encouraging,” said office-bearers of the Wayanad Chamber of Commerce.
N.K. Mohammed, chairman and managing trustee of Oriental Group of Educational Institutions, has promised to offer 1.5 acres of land free of cost at the upper station. We are now trying to acquire the required 1-acre land at the base station in Adivaram.
The stakeholders have already held discussions with Wayanad DFO Sunil Kumar for the smooth implementation of the project.
If the extent of forest land to construct the intermediate towers is more than one hector, an equal extent of land would be provided to the Forest Department to compensate the loss. Kozhikode collector U.V. Jose has also extended full support to the project, they added.
A boon for regular commuters
Regular commuters will also benefit from the ropeway in a big way. Plans have been chalked out to attract common passengers by introducing bus services between Sulthan Bathery and Lakkidi as well as Adivaram and Kozhikode. That way, the ropeway project could become a major pollution-free mass transportation system, which will help commuters save considerable travel time.
The ropeway has been visualized in a way that it does not cause any damage to the balance of the ecologically-fragile area, which is nestled in the lap of nature amid lush green surroundings, flanked by hillocks.
As no pollution or environmental issues are involved, the project is expected to get green signal from authorities concerned without any hassle. If everything goes as planned, the ropeway will become a reality by 2019. There are also plans to plant flowering trees in the forest to enhance the aesthetics of the stretch.
A survey, the first step in the feasibility study, will be conducted in April and the construction work is expected to begin in June.
Big boost to tourism
The project, modeled on ropeways in Kashmir and Dehradun, is expected to give a major fillip to tourism promotion in Wayanad. This will be the first such facility in South India, which will cater to both tourists and common passengers. Once the rope car is in place, the scenic ghat road, which lies at an altitude of over 2,200 feet above sea level, could catapult the region to the top of the global tourism map, the officials added.