They tried to destroy check-post near Angamoozhy
Angamoozhy, in the eastern hilly tracts adjoining the forests, remains tense with the villagers protesting against the curbs imposed by the Forest Department on the entry of vehicles to Gavi through the Moozhiyar-Kochu Pampa route from the check-post of the Forest Department at Kiliyerinjankallu, near Angamoozhy.
A group of agitated protesters, including women, on Saturday tried to destroy the check-post. The police and forest guards chased the agitators away.
The Gavi Samara Samiti has been waging agitation demanding the Forest Department withdraws the restrictions imposed on the entry of tourists to Gavi, and permit villagers to freely cross the check-post, besides sanctioning reed collection from the forest areas with immediate effect.
The protesters, led by panchayat members, took out a procession to the check-post. The police and the forest guards blocked the procession when it reached the check-post and the situation took a violent turn when a group of irate mob tried to break the police cordon. The protesters were chased away by the police later.
There are allegations that certain commercial lobby at Chittar and Angamoozhy are behind the agitation and are spreading false propaganda among the villagers that the Forest Department will annex Angamoozhy and surrounding areas of human habitation too to the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) in future.
There are also reports that business activity at Angamoozhy and Chittar have come down drastically following the restrictions on tourists’ passage to Gavi, following annexation of Gavi and surrounding areas to the PTR in January.
The Forest Department annexed 148 sq km of forest land coming under the Plappally and Pachakkanam forest stations, attached to the Goodrickal Forest Range in the Ranni Forest Division, to the PTR on January 31, considering its immense scope to support the growing tiger population in the area.
Under the PTR
With this, the ecologically sensitive forest tracts of Ponnambalamedu, Gavi, Pachakkanam, Anathode, Meenar, Chenthamarakkokka, Kochu Pampa and Varayadinmotta, which were regarded as places of tourist attraction, were brought under PTR.
To check forest fires
Official sources told The Hindu that the decision to regulate vehicular traffic through the forests was taken in the backdrop of the increasing instances of wild fire outbreaks in the region in the recent past.
The PTR authorities have started regulating entry of tourists from Moozhiyar through the forest road, cutting across the newly annexed areas, with a view to minimise human intervention in the tiger land.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has strictly maintained that core critical tiger areas should be kept inviolate from any human interference. Moreover, the NTCA is of the view that tourism activity taking place in the buffer zones of tiger reserves should be phased out.