The dawn-to-dusk hartal called by the Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) to protest against the Union government’s decision to implement the Kasturirangan Committee report on the Western Ghats is likely to hit normal life, particularly in the high range areas that come under the ambit of the panel’s recommendations.
The high ranges in Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikode, and Idukki are already restive and have seen shut down for varying periods over the past two days. In Idukki, the High Range Protection Council has called for a 48-hour ‘Occupy the Streets’ agitation in the district beginning Sunday midnight and in north Kerala, the misgivings about the implications of the report has already taken a violent turn.
The LDF leadership and the High Range Protection Council have rejected Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s assurance over the past two days that the State still had time to apprise the Centre of its objections to the panel’s recommendations. They have also not heeded Union Minister for Environment and Forest Jayanti Natarajan’s statement on Sunday that her Ministry had only issued an Office Memorandum and that the final notification on the panel’s recommendations would be issued only after receiving the views of the States.
The LDF’s hartal call is likely to put some pressure on the United Democratic Front (UDF) constituents who have come out against the report and declared that they would join hands with the Opposition in its campaign against the Central government decision.
Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan has termed the hartal politically motivated, but not everybody within the ruling alliance appear to think so.
The LDF leadership has made it clear that the hartal would be peaceful and that care would be taken to ensure smooth progress of pilgrims to Sabarimala.
The alliance has exempted essential services such as milk supply and hospital services from the purview of the hartal, but has appealed to the people to cooperate with the hartal by striking work, downing shutters of their shops and commercial establishments, and by avoiding journeys.
Kerala and Calicut Universities have announced cancellation of all examinations scheduled for Monday.