High ranges set for strong protests over buffer zone issue

Church forums say a field survey should be conducted and a new report submitted to the Supreme Court. They allege lack of clarity in the satellite survey report.

Updated - December 17, 2022 09:02 pm IST

Published - December 17, 2022 08:59 pm IST - IDUKKI

The High Range Samrakshana Samiti (HRSS) has come out strongly against the ‘lack of clarity’ in the satellite survey conducted by the State government to earmark the buffer zones around protected areas in Kerala.

According to HRSS general convener Fr. Sebastian Kochupurackal, the report has been prepared without proper verification. “In view of the Supreme Court order, we had demanded that the government appoint a panel to conduct the study. We also sought the inclusion of representatives of farmers in the panel. But the government arbitrarily constituted a panel,” said Fr. Kochupurackal. The HRSS had spearheaded the protests against the Gadgil-Kasturirangan reports.

‘Hoodwinking public’

“The new report was prepared without proper clarity and we have reason to suspect that it is an attempt to hoodwink the people. We will launch a protest if the government fails to address our legitimate concerns,” said Fr. Kochupurackal.

The All Kerala Catholic Congress (AKCC) and the Kerala Catholic Youth Movement (KCYM) under the Idukki diocese of the Syro-Malabar Church held protests demanding that all human settlements be exempted from the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ).

AKCC Idukki diocese president George Koyikkal said the organisation would take out a protest march and burn the new ESZ map at Narakakkanam in Idukki on Tuesday. “Our demand is that the government should conduct a physical and field survey in the ESZ areas and submit a new report before the Supreme Court. The present report has no clarity,” said Mr. Koyikkal.

Alleging a clandestine move by the Forest department to implement the Gadgil and Kasturirangan reports in the district, he said the Idukki diocese and the Church would continue the protest on the buffer zone issue.

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