A dawn-to-dusk hartal called by a joint action forum of hillside farmers over the Union government’s recommendation before the National Green Tribunal for bringing 123 villages in the State within the Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) category was total in the hilly areas of the district on Wednesday.

The protest, organised with the support of various political parties and the Western Ghats Protection Committee, mainly affected eight grama panchayats — Thiruvambadi, Koodaranhi, Kattipara, Kodenchery, Puthuppadi, Chakkittapara, Kavilumpara, and Koorachundu.

The functioning of educational institutions and various government offices were hit and vehicles kept off the road. Only two-wheelers were allowed on roads. Afraid of stone-throwing, the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) too cut short its rural services from the Thamarassery depot and operated only the city services.

In regional protest meets, action committee leaders alleged that the Union government’s latest explanation on the identification of 123 villages as ESAs was meant to ignite further protests from farmers. They also said that the government was “acting in favour of the implementation of Kasturirangan report” despite the growing concerns of farmers.

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