Kerala shuts down, suffers Rs.900 crore loss
A dawn-to-dusk state-wide shutdown Monday, called by the Left opposition to protest an order on implementation of the Kasturirangan panel report on conserving Western Ghats environment, brought Kerala to a grinding halt and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said it cost the state Rs.900 crore.
Across the state, shops and markets were closed and, barring private vehicles, no public transport vehicles were operating, leaving many stranded at railway stations and bus stands.
"The CPI-M should tell the people of the state why was today's shutdown called. The state has lost Rs.900 crore and, in this figure, the agriculture sector's loss has not been accounted for. In every shutdown, the worst affected are the daily wage workers," Chandy told reporters here.
Both the state and central governments have categorically assured people that not a single person would be evicted on account of implementation of the Kasturirangan Committee report on Western Ghats, but assurances seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
Hours after the Ministry of Environment and Forest came out with the order Thursday, there was a scare, especially in the hilly districts of the state, that the order will spell a death-knell for their livelihood.
The five conditions in the order, applicable in the state's 123 villages, are: no mining, no setting up of thermal plants, restriction on construction of 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.
Criticising the CPI-M, which called for the shutdown, Chandy said it's sad the Left opposition decided to observe a shutdown at a meeting chaired by former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan.
"It was Achuthanandan himself who wanted the Gadgil Committee report to be implemented (both the state and centre have now replaced Gadgil report with Kasturirangan report because the former was stringent) ... their party secretary Pinarayi Vijayan wrote a letter to me asking me to ensure that the Kasturirangan report would be implemented after talking to all stake holders. We are so surprised by their double standards," said Chandy.
"I will never blame the farmers because they appear to have been misled ... A 24-hour online service has been opened for anyone desirous to know about the Kasturirangan report. The state government-appointed committee will meet all stake holders to find out their views," said Chandy, who added that no one will lose their land nor would anyone have to move out from where they stay.
(Posted on 18-11-2013)