The populace of Wayanad, as per the 2011 census, is 8, 16,558.
Although Wayanad is a district of Kerala, there are only four gateways to the region from the state, which is extremely queer. Thamarassey mountain pass in Kozhikode district, Kuttiady pass, Periya pass in Kannur district and Kelakam-Boy’s Town road near the Periya pass are the only ways of access to and from Wayanad. These hilly routes are highly perilous. Of these routes, only the Thamarassery Mountain pass which is part of the Kozhikode-Kollegal national highway, has comparatively wider roads. Traffic jams lasting for hours are a usual sight on these routes. That is, if the traffic is held up on the Thamarassery Ghat pass, one will have to travel another 50 km to Kuttiady in order to take the mountain pass to reach Wayanad. And if that’s not possible, the next way of access is to take the Periya pass located in the eastern border of Kannur district, which is much far. During monsoon, travelling through these routes, which usually witness traffic jams during normal climates, are fraught with dangers. The latest instance is the traffic held up for hours after a heavy landslide along the Thamarassery pass on Tuesday. Travelers including women, children and patients were trapped on the hilly route along the pass in heavy rain for many hours. Stuck in rains and unable to get out of their vehicles, their plight could be easily imagined.
An intriguing aspect is that there are routes, three each, to Wayanad from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Night travel along Bandipur and Bavali routes are banned. Given that the usual journeys along the routes are loaded with uncertainties and travel during monsoon is especially dangerous, night travel is soon to be banned along two routes to Karnataka. Know that there is no modes of rail, water and air transportation to the district. That is, in a way it can be said that the district is under a semi-blockade. The gravity of the problem could be comprehended from the very fact that those residing in Wayanad district rely on the city of Kozhikode for expert medical treatments. There are no facilities including super specialty hospitals in Wayanad. All requirements such as education, foreign trips and advanced medical treatments are available only outside the district. Even those who missed their flights to Gulf after being stuck in long traffic jams on the hilly routes could be seen here. The issue with Wayanad district is the failure in finding an alternative solution to the problem when a door closes. There have been several suggestions and studies regarding alternate routes other than the risky roads along the mountain passes. However, the fact is that the governments in power failed to consider the issues with deserving seriousness and in displaying the required determination in implementing such projects.
The road that starts from Poozhithodu in Kozhikode district ending in Padinjarathara in Wayanad is the most important among the alternative routes. It doesn’t require a mountain pass and passes through the tourist attraction centres, Banasura Sagar and Peruvannamuzhi. The total length of the road is 27. 225 kilometres with 12.940 kilometres passing through the forest. It’s been eighteen years since the remaining works have been completed. Constructing a 12 km road through forests causes a loss of 52 acres of forest land. So in return, 33 acres of revenue land in Kanjirodu village in Mananthavady was handed over to the Forest Department years before. It’s been years since M Koyakutty from Thariyodu village in Vythiri Taluk and K K Mammu Haji gave 10 acres of land each for the purpose for free. Still, the project of an important road have been for years, stuck without any development in that 12.5 km. Another route is the road that connects Panom in Vanimal in Kozhikode district and Kunjom in Thondarnadu Panchayat in Wayanad. This route too, doesn’t require a Ghat pass.
Vanimal is a village located along the Kozhikode- Kannur border. Its easily connects Wayanad with Nadapuram and Kuthuparamba regions. Here too, the road goes through the forest till the border. It will have to be built through the forest for a stretch of around 7 km of which 3.5 km stretch of Coupe road presently exists. Outcries and protests for this road have been taking place for years. The third alternate route starts from Chippilithodu near Thamarassery pass and end at Thalipuzha near Vythiri. This might be the last presented alternate solution. About 5 hectre forest land is required for the purpose. The concerned Panchayats are willing to give land in return for forest land. However, obstacles still remain. If these doors are opened, the traffic issues in Malabar would be resolved to a great extent. The beautiful mountain passes that’s getting damaged due to excess traffic will also be saved. Who will save those in Wayanad from this state of semi-blockade?