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Illegal roadside shops pose threat to tourists in Munnar

An illegal roadside shop on the Kochi-Dhanushkodi national highway in Munnar at Pallivasal near Munnar.

An illegal roadside shop on the Kochi-Dhanushkodi national highway in Munnar at Pallivasal near Munnar. | Photo source: Special arrangement

Unauthorized shops encroached on the Kochi-Dhanushkodi National Highway, Munnar-Udumalpet interstate highway and Munnar town, causing hours-long traffic jams.

According to officials, hundreds of illegal roadside shops have been set up on the Gap section of the Munnar-Bodimetu Highway and the Palivasal route of the National Highway (NH). Shops have also been set up in the Rajamala area on the Munnar-Udumalpet route.

National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) Assistant Executive Engineer Rex Felix said the NHAI has issued eviction notices to 75 unauthorized shops on the Kochi-Dhahuskodi national highway. “NHAI will also take steps to clear out illegal shops in Palivasal area,” he said.

Devikulam Sub-Collector VM Jayakrishnan said instructions have been issued to Munnar panchayat to demolish all roadside shops on the Gap Road stretch. The Gap Road section is an environmentally sensitive area and many landslip cases have been reported. “Shops in these areas pose a threat to both tourists and shopkeepers,” Mr Jayakrishnan said.

“The police will submit a report soon and based on the report, further steps will be taken to ban such illegal shops,” the official said.

Munnar ring inspector Rajan K. Aramana said the shops were creating a public nuisance in Munnar. “The police have written to Munnar and Palivasar villages, NHAI and NH to remove illegal shops. Some shop vendors have also been accused of attacking tourists and preventing them from parking their vehicles on the roadside without buying anything . Most of the affected tourists left without complaining,” the official said. Local people and tourism stakeholders have also sought immediate demolition of the shops.

“A detailed report will be submitted to the Devikulam Divisional Collector recommending immediate demolition of these shops,” Mr Alamana said.

Sources revealed that local politicians are behind the mushrooming of roadside shops in the area. “Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, officials planned to evict all unauthorized shops in Munnar. But local politicians opposed the move at the time,” sources said.

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