Thiruvananthapuram: Eminent Space Scientist Dr K Kasturirangan headed panel's recommendations on the protection of the Western Ghats has led to a pitched battle between the Congress-led ruling UDF and the CPM-led opposition LDF. In an election year, the LDF is trying to exploit the situation for it s advantage.
The CPI(M)-led Left Democratic front sponsored dawn to dusk strike in Kerala against the implementation of the Kasturirangan Committee report was successful. The high range protection committee is also organising a 48-hoyuur road blockade in Idukki district protesting against the committee report.
The Kasturirangan committee was formed to study the recommendations of the Madhav Gadgil committee report on the conservation of Western Ghats. The Gadgil committee faced widespread opposition as it recommended that about three fourths of the hills, including cultivated lands, plantations and large in habitations be turned into restricted development zone.
According to the Kasturirangan report about 123 villages of Kerala has been found to be ecologically sensitive area. They have divided the Western Ghats into cultural and natural landscapes. The cultural landscapes are the land of settlements, agriculture and plantations and it acknowledges and allows for the presence of humans in these areas.
The committee has recommended a complete ban on mining activity in the area. It has banned the construction of any buildings over the size of 20,000 sqm and townships more than 50 hectres. It has banned quarry activities and even the presence of industries that come under the red category in this area.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that the LDF was also favourable to the Kasturirangan committee report. In the letter given by the CPI (M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, at the all party meeting, stated that the reccomendations shall be implemented after taking the people into confidence. He added that this is the view of the state and the central government and the CPI(M) should explain why they are holding the hartal. The CM Said that the state has suffered a loss of Rs 900 core due to the hartal.
The CM said that the report will be implemented only after holding talks with all stakeholders and addressing the concerns of the people.
Deputy opposition leader, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said that the LDF called for a hartal as the central government is trying to implement the recommendations in haste without holding proper discussions.
He said, "The future development of the area will be halted as new hospitals, schools or colleges cannot come up and the old ones cannot be extended. So even if they say people will not be evicted they will be forced to leave the place as there will be no development. We are not against protecting the environment but it should be done after proper discussions in the legislative assembly and at the level of the local bodies."
Two untoward incidents were reported as part of the hartal, when stones were pelted at the vehicle of Ayappa devotes at Kakkanad in Kochi and against tourists at Thekkady. The hartal was peaceful in other parts of the state.