To stop ecological damage in western ghats

: The Forest Department proposes to create an eco-sensitive zone around protected areas, particularly the Megamalai sanctuary, in the western ghats, to prevent ecological damage caused by developmental activities.

The decision was taken at a meeting attended by revenue and forests officials and elected representatives of local bodies at Uthamapalayam near here on Friday. The forest officials proposed expansion of the zone by at least 5-10 km to protect flora and fauna and endangered wildlife. However, the local bodies representatives protested the expansion plan on the grounds that it would block development works in villages bordering the forests.

Small farmers would lose their agricultural land, they feared. Some representatives walked out of the meeting. However, the forest officials assured them that there would be no bar on agriculture or horticulture within the zone. Hazardous activities like quarrying and chemical processing alone would be stopped.