Seeks release of all jailed during protest demonstrations

Reiterating its resolve to continue the agitation against the recommendations of the K. Kasturirangan and Madhav Gadgil committees, the Thamarasserry-based people’s committee for protection of Western Ghats has demanded immediate release of all those who have been imprisoned for staging demonstrations against the reports.

The committee demanded that the 123 villages that had been classified as ecologically fragile land (EFL) in the K. Kasturirangan committee report be excluded from the category as the classification placed restrictions on farming and construction activities even in land owned by farmers.

The demands were made by Chacko Kalanparambil, general convener, and Fr. Antony Kozhuvanal, national general secretary, of Infam at a press conference here on Thursday.

Puthupady panchayat president Ayisha Sulthana, Kavilumpara panchayat president Cicily Karimbassery, and Daisy George, Community Development Society chairperson of Kudumbasree, represented the people’s committee opposing the recommendations of panels.

‘No steps to allay fears’

Fr. Kozhuvanal and Mr. Kalanparambil remarked that in spite of widespread protests against the reports, the government had not taken any effective action so far to allay people’s fears about the recommendations contained in the reports.

People feared that once the recommendations were implemented farmers living in hill ranges would have to abandon their cultivated fields and flee.

Threat to livelihood

They said livelihood of nearly 60 lakh people were under threat. Many suspected the reports were written with hidden motives since “undue, haste was shown in preparing the reports, and suggestions of the Ministry of Agriculture and other government departments were not taken seriously by the Kasturirangan and Madhav Gadgil committees while framing the recommendations.”

Housewives would be the worst affected by such fears of displacement and loss of livelihood, the committee leaders said.