Thiruvananthapuram: A flashpoint is developing between the church and the Kerala Government, with various church denominations launching an agitation until their demand for redefining the 1km buffer zone around all protected forests is met.
The church factions will launch the direct action from Tuesday and the Thamarasserry bishop, representing a prominent section of the church, has warned against bloodbath if the State Government persisted with the original plan.
The latest controversy is about a satellite survey launched by the State Government to identify the areas to be delineated as the buffer zone, which is to be submitted to the Supreme Court when it resumes hearing of a review petition by the State against the apex court’s order relating to the eco-sensitive zones.
The survey results have to be submitted to the court before the December-end. The survey includes a large number of settlements by farmers, who mostly belong to the Christian community and had migrated from other parts of the State to take up cultivation in the high range areas.
The affected areas include many parts of Wayanad district, apart from the residents of Kumily, Munnar, Neyyar and Palakkad, etc.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has called a high-level meeting to discuss the issue and according to Forest Minister AK Saseendran, all aspects of the problem would be considered threadbare at the meeting.
He said the farmers are being misled deliberately on the buffer zone, which has been in discussion for years. The agitation leaders are behaving as if it has suddenly cropped up, he alleged.
The Government has already indicated that the satellite survey, done by the Remote Sensing and Environment Centre, has a number of inaccuracies, which will be addressed by conducting field surveys.
But the agitation leaders feel the timeframe available for undertaking such detailed field surveys is very limited and therefore it would at best be a hash job.
The State Government is in a dilemma over the consequences of it discounting the results of the survey in the Supreme Court in the event of the court not being convinced about the state’s position.
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