CPI(M) protests Centre’s decision to make parts of Western Ghats eco-sensitive areas
A 24-hour State-wide bandh in Kerala, called by the CPI-M, completely paralysed all activities in cardamom estates in Idukki district, leaving thousands of estate workers in the Theni district jobless.
However, pilgrims’ vehicles proceeding to Sabarimala from various parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were allowed to pass through the district.
The bandh was called against the decision of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to turn Western Ghats into ecologically sensitive areas.
Heavy police were deployed at Lower Camp to regulate pilgrims’ vehicles. They stopped pilgrims’ vehicles at the Lower Camp check-post and sent them in small batches to ensure safe travel. All vehicles coming from Sabarimala too were allowed to cross the Kumuli check-post to reach Tamil Nadu. The only condition was that all vehicles should carry a portrait of Lord Ayyappan.
Pilgrims in Kerala struggled for food and other items as all shops and hotels remained closed since dawn. The number of vehicles going to Kerala through Theni district too came down owing to the bandh, said police officials. (Pilgrims had faced similar troubles in December 2011 owing to an indefinite strike relating to the Mullaiperiyar dam issue.)
Following clear instructions from Idukki police and local partymen, all jeep, van and cab operators did not operate their services in and around the area. Corporation and private buses were operated till district borders only.
A majority of estate workers in Theni district did not go for work as there was no transport facility. Over 500 jeeps and vans that were carrying workers to estates in Kerala were off the road, said P. Iyyappan, president, Jeep and Van Operators Association.
Cardamom growers in Idukki district said plucking of cardamom, which was in full swing, was affected. They said that the agitation will not end in next 48 hours. Milk, flowers and vegetable too were not sent to Kerala from Theni.
The bandh had its adverse impact also on the wholesale vegetable market at Oddanchatram as it received just 20 per cent of its routine arrival. With no takers, the arrivals were sold at rock-bottom prices to local traders.
Normally, 70 per cent of arrivals at the Oddanchatram market were procured by Kerala vegetable traders and 30 per cent by domestic farmers.
Commission agents had alerted farmers not to bring vegetables to the market. But a few farmers brought them. Tomato growers in Dindigul and nearby districts were the worst affected as they could neither leave the fruits nor stock in godowns for two days. Tomato production was more than local consumption. The strike will continue in district tomorrow.
Barring traffic to Sabarimala, movement of vehicles stopped Arrivals at Oddanchatram market also affected
Barring traffic to Sabarimala, movement of vehicles stopped
Arrivals at Oddanchatram market also affected