Thiruvananthapuram: The Congress-led UDF Opposition has recommended the government not to reduce the size of the proposed sanctuary to preserve Neelakurinji flowering area, a great tourist attraction, in Idukki district.

Neelakurinji is a purplish blue flower which blooms only once in 12 years and the blossoming attracts a large number of tourists and nature enthusiasts from Kerala and outside.

A report by a UDF delegation, led by its leader Ramesh Chennithala, which visited the proposed site, said settlers and encroachers in the area should be treated differently.

It wanted the government not to redraw boundaries of the sanctuary that came into focus recently over charges that big encroachers were trying to sabotage it.

Genuine settlers should be protected while preserving the sanctuary, the report said.

The very existence of the sanctuary was in danger due to the presence of a big lobby of realtors and real estate agents who had occupied land with forged title deeds, the report said.

The report alleged that the initiative to conduct a survey of the sanctuary was blocked by the machinations of big encroachers under the pretext to helping small time farmer settlers.

It also wanted to handover to crime branch the case related to land title deed of LDF independent MP Joice George at Kottakambur that comes within the vicinity of sanctuary.

The Idukki district authorities had cancelled the land title deed of 20 acres of land of George in November last.  The 'Neelakurinji Sanctuary' is proposed in a 3,200 hectare land in Munnar and nearby areas, which is part of biodiversity hot spot of Western ghats.

The previous LDF government in 2006 issued a preliminary notification for the proposed sanctuary. However nothing came of it due to resistance from the local people.

The state government while asserting that the sanctuary area would not be reduced, had decided to conduct a scientific study of the sanctuary.

Idukki is gearing up for another blooming season of 'Neelakurinji' during July-October next year.

At least eight lakh tourists are expected to arrive in the resort town for the coming season. PTI