Church threatens to protest against Western Ghats' report

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 16 : Adding to the controversy over the central government's order based on the Kasturirangan panel's Western Ghats report, the Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference (KCBC) Saturday also threatened to launch a protest.

"At least 2.2 million people will be affected as they live in the Western Ghats area and it's our duty to help them," said KCBC president Archbishop Andrews Thazhathu.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy's assurance Friday that the central government's order would not undermine the farmers' interest in the state has not detracted the protesters.

Hours after the of environment and forest ministry came out with the order Thursday, violence broke out in several parts the state, as protesters ransacked vehicles in Kozhikode and Kannur districts and engaged in stone pelting injuring policemen.

The Left opposition has called for a Kerala shutdown Monday to protest the order, which they say is detrimental to the farmers of the state.

"The government has taken on the people by forcing the Kasturirangan report. Now they say this is not the final report. They have lost people's confidence and we decided to hold a shutdown to protests this indiscriminate act," said Left Democratic Front convener Vaikom Viswan.

However, Kerala State Biodiversity Board which heads the three-member committee of the state government noted that the order's implementation would be done under the Environment Act and not the Forest Act.

"It's baseless to think that people will be evicted after this order gets implemented. The report will not affect the common man's interests," added the Board official who did not wish to be identified.

The five conditions in the order, applicable in the state's 123 villages, would include no mining, no setting up of thermal plant, restricts buildings to less than 20,000 square metres, no township project to exceed 50 hectares, and no setting up of industries classified in the red category.

--IANS (Posted on 16-11-2013)

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