Huge stir against implementation of Kasturirangan report

Thousands of people from Hebri and surrounding areas take out protest rally

The localities comprising the farmers and laborers working in industries in Hebri-Chara, Belanje-Kucchur, Nadpal and Kabbinale villages, staged a massive protest rally against the proposed implementation of the recommendations made in the Kasturirangan report.

Thousands of people comprising large number of women folks shouted slogans and took part in the procession in response to the bandh call issued by Hebri Zonal Kasturirangan Varadi Virodhi Horata Samithi.

Advocate from Kundapur T Balakrishna Shetty alleged that the district administration has utterly failed to convey the responses of the people to the authorities concerned. He said the district administration, is bound to set up the village committees to hear the grievances, objections and opinions of people in the villages concerning the report. The directions issued by the State government clearly states that the district administration should initiate village committees and facilitate the affected people to share their responses. Lamenting over the pathetic negligence of the district administration in moulding the public opinion concerning the report, the advocate said the district has seen three deputy commissioners in the time span of six months. However, not even a single deputy commissioner deemed it necessary to set up the committees at village-level.

Besides, the district administration has also failed to create awareness over the proposed recommendations among mass in the affected area. The State government has also directed the district administration to make the people in the affected area realize the facts mentioned in the report.

Coming down heavily against the report, the advocate said that the report is totally unscientific, as it has not taken the aspect of physical verification of the identified region into consideration. The physical verification comprising the geographic strata, population and livelihood sources of the people should be considered, and it is possible only at the grassroot level. He said Kasturirangan is a space scientist and not an environmentalist to do justice to the job entrusted to him. The report itself is superficial without bearing any sense of reality. The lack of accurate boundaries marking the Western Ghat region has taken its toll in the report. Even till date, there is no proper identification of the borders of Western Ghat. He said the forest cover mentioned in the report is judged using satellite images. The report does not include the slope areas adjoining the Western Ghat, rather it considers the plain land below Western Ghats. He demanded that both Gadgil and Kasturirangan report should be made available in public domain. It should be discussed, before embarking upon any hasty decisions.

Alleging that Karnataka government has approved many of the factors which was rejected by other States, the advocate said that the State government has agreed for the ban on jelly crusher units in the area. He called upon the local politicians and people representatives to discus the report under the leadership of the district in-charge minister. It is not the bureaucrats who should have their say, rather the people’s representatives should represent the voice of the affected area, he said. 

Kasturirangan Varadi Virodhi Horata Samithi, Karkala Samithi President Mutlapdi Sathish Shetty flayed that the 108 pages report is in English and the villagers are ignorant over the implications. However, the translated version misses the description over the pages 36 and 72 in the original report, which emphasis on Tiger Reserve and Elephant corridor.

He said Karkala region is the victim of nearly five environment projects since last 30 years. It is a continuous atrocity against the farmers, laborers and the people in the region. The report comprises of the evil intention of destroying the human habitat in the area, he said.

The shops and other retail outlets were shut and there was a partial disturbance in the transport, as the vehicles and buses plying on the streets were stopped by the agitators.

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