LDF calls for dawn-to-dusk hartal in Idukki district tomorrow

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is convening an all-party meeting on Monday to arrive at a consensus on implementation of the recommendations of the K. Kasturirangan committee on the Western Ghats.

The Chief Minister said in an official release here on Wednesday that decisions would be taken on the basis of the opinions emerging at the meeting. The general approach of the government is to implement the recommendations in a manner that would ensure protection of the environment and, at the same time, avoid difficulties to the people.

Mr. Chandy said the Centre had sought the opinions of State governments on the Kasturirangan report. Kerala had submitted its preliminary opinion. Its final stand would be communicated after the all-party meeting. There is no cause for concern among the people in this regard. It would be possible to adopt a united stand to avoid practical difficulties.

He noted that though the Kasturirangan panel report was more favourable to Kerala than the Gadgil panel report, it still had many proposals and recommendations opposed by the State. The State would continue with its effort to convince the Centre and the Supreme Court of the difficulties in implementing them.

LDF protest

A Correspondent writes from Idukki: The Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) would organise a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Idukki district on Friday in protest against the decision of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to turn 60,000 square kilometres of the Western Ghats, including parts of the district, into Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA).

Announcing this here, Communist Party of India (Marxist) district secretary K.K. Jayachandran said the decision would hit the lives and livelihood of hundreds of people in the district. The LDF wished to draw the attention of the Central and State governments to the grave crisis that the decision would cause in the district. If the Ministry went ahead with its decision, thousands would lose their means of livelihood, he said and added that all essential services such as hospital services and distribution of milk and newspapers would remain exempted from the hartal.

The High Range Protection Council, which has been running a campaign against the Madhav Gadgil Committee recommendations, has declared support for the hartal.

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