A diocesan circular read out in churches in high-range Idukki District during the Sunday mass voiced serious concerns that the implementation of the recommendations would result in large-scale displacement of people settled on the slopes of the mountain range for generations.
It warned of a strong resistance to attempts to implement the proposals of the Kasturirangan report ‘at the peril’ of families that eke out a living out of their small and marginal farmsteads.
The church circular called for opposing the elected representatives and political parties that support the report ignoring the consequences it would have for people in the hill.
It also expressed anguish over the delay in issuing title deeds for small pieces of lands held by the settler farmers in the upland areas.
Earlier also, the church had issued pastoral letters and circulars raising objections to the report of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel headed by conservationist Madhav Gadgil and the follow-up on it by a panel led by former ISRO chairman K Kasturirangan.
With the support of the church, a people's convention was held a few days back at Thiruvambadi in Kozhikode District to give vent to the concerns the issue has caused among the settlers in North Kerala, especially the upland Wayanad.
Under pressure to implement the measures to protect the fragile biological hotspot from further human assault, the UDF Government has formed a state-level experts' committee to work out practical solutions to the problem without causing displacement of people in the high range areas.
Most of the major political parties, including the Congress, which leads the UDF government in Kerala and the opposition CPI-M are concerned over the impact of the Gadgil and Kasturirangan reports.
However, sections of the political class of different hues have taken a pro-active stand on the immediacy of taking drastic steps to conserve the Western Ghats, overlooking the short-term fallout of such a bold initiative.


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