Move to declare eco-sensitive zones around Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary flayed

Protest is brewing against a draft notification of the Ministry of Forests and Environment to declare eco-sensitive zones around the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, which shares its borders with many villages in the district.

According to the draft notification issued on January 28, the eco-sensitive zone would be an extent of 0 to 3.4 km around the boundary of the sanctuary.

โ€œIt will badly affect the lives of thousands of farmers on the fringes of the sanctuary spread over six villages under Mananthavady and Sulthan Bathery taluks,โ€ said P.M. Joy, chairman, Karshika Purogamana Samiti (KPS).

As much as 29,291 acres of private land on the fringes of the sanctuary would come under the zone and the development of towns like Sulthan Bathery and Kattikulam would be stopped for ever, Mr. Joy said.

All development in eco-sensitive zones, including construction of roads and houses, would be affected and farmers would not be able to cut trees they had planted on their land without the permission of forest officials, Mr. Joy said.

Wild animal attacks

The lives of farmers on the forest fringes is miserable owing to the increasing incidents of wild animal attacks, said T.C. Joseph, chairman, Wayanad Action Committee to Prevent Wildlife Attack.

โ€œWhen the sanctuary was established in 1973, the government had assured that equal importance would be given to human life and wildlife. But gradually, the importance was given only to wildlife,โ€ he said.

โ€œAs many as 147 persons were killed in wildlife attack in the district in the past 38 years, he said. The farming community living adjacent to the forest were always conserving the forest and wildlife. So the government should restrict the zone to the forest itself,โ€ he added.

Religious organisations and political parties are also planning to launch protest against the Ministryโ€™s move. The KPS would convene a meeting of all farmer organisations in the district at 2.p.m. at Sulthan Bathery on Monday demanding to withdraw the notification.

The meet would also decide the mode of agitation against the notification, Mr. Joy added.

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