Kozhikode, 20th December 2022: The KCBC (Kerala Catholic Bishops Council) and other farmers organizations in Kerala are protesting against the satellite survey of eco-sensitive zones, conducted by the state government, after a Supreme Court order. The KCBC’s protest is at Koorachundu in Kozhikode and was inaugrated by Thamarassery Bishop Mar Remigiose Inchananiyil.
They are asking for a revision of the survey which is likely to displace thousands of families.
On June 3, Supreme Court directed that all national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the country which fall under protected areas must earmark a minimum distance of one kilometre, as buffer zone, where prohibited activities specified by the Centre, including mining and establishment of any new permanent structure, will not be permitted. The deadline for implementing this is March.
A satellite survey was held by the State Remote Sensing and Environment Centre. According to protestors, the survey identified around 20,000 buildings within a 1 km radius around 23 protected forests and wildlife parks. Most of which were houses in Idukki and Wayanad. They fear that 25,000 families will be evicted if the court’s directive is implemented and 250,000 acres of land will turn into a buffer zone and “no activity area”.
On Friday, the state Forest Minister A K Saseendran had said that the Kerala government has taken a stand in the state assembly and before the Supreme Court and the Centre that only a buffer zone which excludes populated areas is acceptable and there will be no change in this position.
“Authorities cannot cheat the poor like this. The survey will displace several farmers and we will not allow this to happen,” Thamarassery Bishop Mar Remogiose Inachananiyil said.
“The government is not serious and sincere in mitigating the woes of farmers. It just wanted to show it is doing something. And many panchayats do not have expertise to identify the geo coordinates,” Kerala Independent Farmers’ Association chairman Alex Ozhukayil said.
Amidst these protests, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan convened a high-level meeting to discuss the buffer zone issue, on Tuesday.