The fee waiver was granted because, due to the Karnataka lockdown, the Punajanur checkpoint is closed.
Following representations from politicians, farmers and the public, the Forestry Department began allowing Talavadi residents to travel on the 23 km Dhimbam – Talamalai forest road without paying vehicle entrance fees, starting on Saturday.
Although Talavadi is located in Tamil Nadu, vehicles must travel 15 km through the roads of Karnataka, including the national road 948 Dindigul – Mysuru, to reach Talavadi. Since the lockdown went into effect in Karnataka, the Punajanur checkpoint in Karnataka has been closed and vehicles have not been allowed to head towards Talavadi.
The Talamalai road which crosses the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR) is only allowed for people from six hamlets located inside the STR from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Since the closure of the Punajanur checkpoint, buses and vehicles loaded with vegetables have been allowed to pass through Talamalai Road to reach Talavadi after paying the fee at the Dhimbam forest checkpoint which is part of the Talamalai forest chain from the Sathyamangalam division.
Since the farmers have to bear the extra cost, they asked for the royalty exemption. On Friday, PL Sundaram, former MP for Bhavanisagar, farmers and the public, came to the checkpoint and asked the Talamalai Suresh forestry officer to clear the vehicles in Talavadi without charging a fee. The issue was discussed with Kiruba Shankar, District Forestry Officer, Sathyamangalam Division, who had discussions with senior officials. It was decided to allow vehicles in Talavadi without collecting a fee until the lockdown is relaxed in Karnataka. Thus, from Saturday, the charges were not collected on vehicles heading towards Talavadi.
Forestry Department officials said only local people will be allowed to use the Talamalai road and visitors will not be allowed to use the road.