‘Forest officials misleading public through propaganda’

‘Forest officials misleading public through propaganda’

The Wayanad Samrakshana Samiti (WSS), a collective of various farmers, traders, religious, and cultural organisations in the district, has decided to intensify agitations raising a slew of demands, including withdrawal of the draft notification of the Ministry of Forest and Environment (MOEF) to declare Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZ) around Malabar and Aralam Wildlife Sanctuaries, which share borders with many villages in Wayanad district.

A meeting of the organisation held at Sulthan Bathery on Wednesday urged Forest officials to stop misleading propaganda regarding the issue. The officials misled the public even in a recent pamphlet which was published to sensitise the public to the issue, Thomas Manakkunnel, chairman of the organisation, said.

Similar propaganda was made by the Forest department officials in Tamil Nadu while declaring such zones in the neighbouring Nilgiris district. But the lives of the people in Gudalur and Pandalur taluks of Nilgiris district had become miserable after the declaration of the zones there, Mr. Thomas said. The organisation would stage a dharna at Pozhuthana in the district at 3 p.m. on Friday as a part of the agitation, he said.

The meet urged all grama panchayats and municipalities in the district to pass resolutions to declare stray wild animals such as wild boar, monkey, and deer as vermin as per Section 62 of the Wildlife Protection Act to mitigate man-animal conflict in the district. It also raised demands such as stopping all move to declare the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary as a tiger reserve and adopting steps to mitigate accelerating man-animal conflict.