The decision of the Ministry of Environment and Forest to declare 60,000 sq km of the Western Ghats,which covers 44 districts in six states,as ecologically sensitive area,has evoked protest from political parties and Syrian Catholic Church in Kerala.
While the government has convened an all-party meeting next week to take a stand on the MoEF decision,the CPM-led Left Democratic Front has called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal Friday in Wayanad and Idukki,two districts which would have large tracts of land as ecologically sensitive. Of the 14 Kerala districts,patches of land in 12 districts would come under the Western Ghats.
A panel headed by Planning Commission member K Kasturirangan and another headed by Prof Madhav Gadgil had submitted reports on steps to protect Western Ghats.
In Kerala,the regions under Western Ghats are home to hundreds of granite quarrying units,which according to the reports have to be closed down. The quarry mafia is the prime source of finance for Kerala parties and politicians. Hence,all political parties are opposed to the committee reports. These parties are wrongly projecting the issue for the sake of farmers, said Congress MLA T N Pratapan.
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church has joined the protest. A large chunk of farmers settled in hilly regions in Western Ghats belong to Catholic Church. Spokesman Fr Paul Thelakkattu said,What we want is to protect the farmers already settled in some areas of the specified places. We want the populated areas not be declared Ecologically Sensitive Area.