Two Kerala districts shut down over Kasturirangan report

Thiruvananthapuram, March 1: The hilly districts of Idukki and Wayanad in Kerala are observing a dawn-to-dusk shutdown Saturday called by the CPI-M led Left Democratic Front to press for the withdrawal of G. Kasturirangan committee’s recommendations.

The union environment and forests ministry in November last year came out with an order which had five conditions applicable to 123 villages in the state.

The order prohibits mining, setting up of thermal plants and also restricts construction of buildings to less than 20,000 square metres.

It also states that no township project in these villages can exceed 50 hectares and industries in the red category cannot be set up in these villages.

The ministry had clamped the ban on the basis of the Kasturirangan panel report on the Western Ghats Nov 16.

This is the second shutdown in these districts since November.

“The decision of the Left to call a shutdown is nothing but a political ploy ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. We are certain that the Centre would be considerate and would do the needful,” said State Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala Saturday.

A state-appointed panel met top forest ministry officials in Delhi Thursday to explain the concerns of the people here about the fallout of the report.

An official, on condition of anonymity, told IANS that issues were being blown out of proportion by vested interests, which includes political parties and also the media.

“The state government is very clear that they will not allow the eviction of a single person in any of the 123 villages. No government can provide any solution to fears or news being circulated on rumours and speculations,” said the official.

IANS