As unrest erupted in the hilly areas, the Kerala government on Tuesday decided to conduct a field survey in the buffer zone surrounding all wildlife parks and sanctuaries and said it will also approach the Supreme Court seeking more time to submit a satellite survey report on the eco-zone. sensitive areas (ESZ), according to the chief minister.
The decision was taken at a meeting called by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the state capital after farmers’ outfits and churches announced agitation.
The government will also extend the tenure of Justice Thottathil Radhakrishnan’s commission by two months, and the affected people will be given more time to file their complaints before the panel, he said.
“The government will listen to the affected people and their representatives in detail and formulate a plan for a verification survey in the field. Officials will have a meeting with 87 panchayat presidents and secretaries on Wednesday. It will also approach the SC to send satellite surveys for more time,” he said in a statement after the meeting. in one
A satellite survey by the Kerala State Center for Remote Sensing and Environment in September to identify man-made structures around 23 wildlife sanctuaries and parks in the proposed one-km buffer zone had sparked widespread protests in the state.
Protesters said the survey identified only 49,324 structures but missed many areas, and the total number of structures will cross 200,000. The survey map released on December 13 only included large structures and left out many thatched and mud houses, small shops and tents. Roads, water bodies and other important landmarks were said to have found no place on the satellite map, mistaking it for forest land.
The whole case started with the Supreme Court’s order on June 3, according to which all national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the country had to set a minimum distance of one kilometer as a buffer zone where prohibited activities, including mining and establishments, specified by the Centre. no new permanent structures will be allowed.
The court also said that states can take the help of satellite images or photographs using drones to identify structures in such areas. In addition, if the SEZs need to be diluted in the interest of the people living there, the states can approach the central committee empowered by them and the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
A satellite survey was then conducted, and an expert committee was constituted under former Bengal President Thottathil Radhakrishnan. But satellite surveys exacerbated the problem, forcing farmers to take to the streets.
Thamarassery Bishop Remigose Inchananiyil, who took a strong stand on the buffer zone issue, said the people would resist any move to relocate at any cost. According to him, the government’s actions on the issue are full of mystery, and it has neglected the farmers’ struggle for their survival.
“Is it necessary to do a satellite survey? Why didn’t the state get a stay in the order like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu did? We will fight the movement at all costs. The people living in the marginal areas worked hard to build their livelihoods and agricultural land, and no one can relocate them,” he said.
“Government should not leave this task to the forest workers who always maintain grudges with farmers and local people,” he said.
Earlier in the day, two ministers, Antony Raju and Roshy Augustine, called on Cardinal Baselios Cleemis in the state capital and briefed him on the situation. His intervention helped the government end the three-month-long riot by Latin Catholic churches and fishermen against the Vizhinjam multi-use seaport.
Meanwhile, there were protests in many areas of Wayanad, Kozhikode, Idukki and Thiruvananthapuram districts.
“We have been staying here and paying land tax for decades. How will they move us on a beautiful morning? Banks also stopped lending citing the buffer zone issue,” said N Nagarajan Amboori (Thiruvananthapuram), a farmer.
He said that more than 3,000 families would be displaced in the district if the buffer zone was marked. The opposition Congress blamed the state government for the mess.
“It was on the issue for a long time when other states managed to get a stay. He addressed the problem with satellite mapping, which was done by accident. We will stand with the affected people,” said Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan.