Hundreds of people gathered before Karkala Taluk Panchayath office to protest against the proposal for declaring Kuduremukh National Park as Tiger Reserve. The protest was staged by the Karkala Huli Samraksahana Yojane Virodhi Horata Samiti.
Speaking to media persons at the protest venue, Karkala former MLA Sunil Kumar alleged that the project would displace nearly 4,000 to 5,000 families from the area. He demanded that the Central government should immediately withdraw the project. Central government should reconsider its decision to forcefully introduce the project. People’s representatives have to work for the cause of the public interest. However, the people’s representatives in the area including MLA are politicising the issue at the cost of livelihood of the public.
He called upon all political leaders to join hands with the Samiti until the Central government withdraws the proposal.
Karkala Huli Samraksahana Yojane Virodhi Horata Samiti Secretary Jnaneshwar Hebbar said that out of 42 villages, as many as 10 villages in Karkala taluk come under the project. About 1,400 families would be displaced besides an additional number of 3,000 to 4,000 people will be displaced once the landmark of 550 meter of prohibitory area is marked. “We have inherited the land through our ancestors and the residents in the area have taken firm decision not to evacuate even if we are held at gunpoint,” he added.
The villages which are under the threat to be covered in the project include entire Kabbinale, Mutlapadi and Edu and partial areas of Nadpalu, Varanga, Andaru, Shirlal, Kervashe, Nuralubettu and Mala.
As against the statements made by the then Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh that naxal activities will decrease in the areas with the introduction of the Tiger Reserve project, Samiti’s Honourary President Andaru Deviprasad Shetty said instead the project will help the naxal activists to enter the villages without any obstacles. Naxal menace in the area was started with the introduction of Kuduremukh Wildlife Division project. The menace will intensify following the implementation of Tiger Reserve, he added.
A resident of Andaru Sheenappa Gowda said that many people depend on agriculture and if they are asked to evacuate the area, it is not possible for them to survive. “Since a long time we have been residing in the area and we have emotional bonding with the land.
The government had assured Rs 10 lakh of compensation package per RTC and the amount of money is very less when compared to the affection we have towards the land that we have inherited from our ancestors,” he said.
‘Former MLA misleading’
At the same time, addressing media persons in Udupi, Udupi-Chikmagalur MP Jayaprakash Hegde and Karkala MLA Gopal Bhandari declined that the Central government is planning to forcefully take up Tiger Reserve project in Kuduremukh Wildlife Division. Bhandari said the programme is already dropped and the Central government is not part of the decision making process as it had only given green signal to the proposal sent by the State government.
He said if at all the people who are trying to give the wrong impression about the Central government role in the proposed project, they should take up the issue with the state government. Bhandari alleged that the former MLA is trying to mislead the public in the area and is creating fearful atmosphere.
“Introducing the Tiger Reserve project is far from truth. The central government will only give technical approval and release funds to the proposals sent by the State government especially with regard to the projects concerning the Forest department. The State government is in charge of the Forest department,” said Bhandari.
He also said that State Forest Minister C P Yogeshwar has also categorically assured that the project is dropped. However, the State government is yet to issue a gazette notification over the issue.
The Congress party will demand the district administration to take measures against those who are misleading the public, said MLA Gopal Bhandari.
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