//Greens condemn move to alienate forests

Greens condemn move to alienate forests

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A convention of environmental activists from across the State, held here on Monday, came out strongly against "the Government’s concerted efforts to alienate what remains of the forest cover in the State."

Scores of environmental activists and conservation officials participated in the convention organised by the Kerala Forest Protective Staff Association. The convention adopted a resolution condemning the Government’s move to distribute hundreds of acres of biodiversity-rich forests of Mankulam area in Idukki district at a `Pattaya Mela’ (title deed distribution festival) being planned by the Revenue Department.

Addressing the convention, conservationist S. Satheesh Chandran said that a biodiversity survey of the forests of Kerala by the French Institute of Pondicherry a few years ago had identified Mankulam area as the richest territory in the State in terms of biodiversity.

As a perennial source of water for the regions downstream and as an area with unfathomable biodiversity value, this 63 square kilometre stretch of verdant evergreens needs to be protected at any cost, he added.

Poetess Sugathakumari, inaugurating the convention, said that the State Government had issued a directive to the District Collectors in November last year not to evict any encroachers who had taken illegal possession of forests and lakes in the State prior to October last year.

She said this showed the desire of the political establishment to favour big hoteliers and estate owners who had encroached over the lakes and forests.

The convention also passed a resolution condemning the Government’s move to de-reserve the Cardamom Hill Reserve in Idukki district to "make it easier for the Revenue Department to legitimise forest encroachments" in the area.

http://www.hindu.com/2006/01/24/stories/2006012415390400.htm