SC order on protected forests: Congress to go on hartal in Pathanamthitta

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Pathanamthitta:The Congress on Saturday said it will observe hartal in six panchayats of Pathanamthitta in protest against the Supreme Court direction that each protected forest, including national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, must have an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of one kilometre and banning of mining activities within such parks across the nation.

The District Congress Committee has called for an hartal on June 7 in the panchayats of Aruvapalam, Thannithode, Chittar, Vadasserikkara, Perinad and Seethathodu.

Issuing a slew of directions, a bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao had on June 3 ordered that no permanent structure will be allowed within such ESZ and said if the local law or other rules provide for an ESZ of more than one kilometre then the earlier provision would continue to apply.

Meanwhile, state Forest Minister A K Saseendran has called for a high-level meeting on Sunday to discuss the Supreme Court order.

"We need to see how we can protect the interests of the people. We also need to see whether there is any way to safeguard the interest of the people. We will consult with the Advocate General and our counsel at the Supreme Court," Saseendran told the media.

The government is learned to have decided to inform the Supreme Court and the Union government that the apex court order was not practical in Kerala.

The Congress said this was an issue that affects people from all walks of life and the Left government was silent on it.

"We in protest against the order and the silence of the state government, have decided to observe hartal in six panchayats," a senior Congress leader in the district told the media.

Idukki MP Dean Kuriakose asked the ruling Left front to hold discussions with the Union government over the issue.

The apex court order came on a batch of applications filed in a pending PIL of 1995 and they raised two sets of issues with the first one related to mining activities in and around Jamua Ramgarh, a wildlife sanctuary in Rajasthan.

The second set of issues was related to prescribing ESZs surrounding the wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.


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