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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bandh observed in Gudalur to protest GOs pertaining to MTR

TNN | Sep 12, 2012, 05.51AM IST UDHAGAMANDALAM: A 'total bandh', called by all political parties was observed in the Gudalur constituency in Nilgiris on Tuesday, to protest the two government orders pertaining to the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR). More than 10 political parties including, DMK, AIADMK, MDMK, CPI, CPM and BJP participated in the 24-hour bandh across villages including Masinagudi, Naduvattam, Pykara and Gudalur. All tea plantation workers in the Gudalur area were in support of the protest. The bandh was convened by N Vasu, CPM Nilgiris district secretariat member. The town wore a deserted look as all shops were closed for the day and the roads were bare except for government buses plying with minimal passengers. "The protest was a success as over 1000 vehicles including autos and taxis did not operate. Even schools in Gudalur registered sparse attendance as students also supported the bandh," said Vasu. Vasu said that the protest was to make the government withdraw the two orders regarding the MTR. "Our main demands are the government should withdraw the two GOs pertaining to the MTR and resolve issues related to 'janmam' land under section 17 immediately," he added. According to him, as per GO 145/2007 the core area of the MTR had been marked as 221 sq km and about 100 sq km had been identified as buffer zone. However, in the GO no 200 dated August 13, 2012, the government has declared the notified area of 321 sq km as core area of the MTR and around 300 sq km surrounding the core area as buffer zone. "As per the latest GO over 2000 families dwelling in Mayar, Masinagudi and Vazhaithottam areas come under the core zone and they are compelled to vacate their land. How could one leave his traditional dwelling place because of a tiger reserve," questioned Vasu. He also said it was unnecessary to increase the core area as the tiger population in the MTR has not increased in recent years. Vasu alleged that the tiger reserve area has been expanded to avail more funds from the centre. "As per Supreme Court order, tourism activities are banned only in the core area, but forest officials prevent tourism activities in the buffer zones too. As per the Tamil Nadu Private Forest Protection act (TNPFP Act) many farmers in the Gudalur area are suffering as they could not cultivate their land or transfer the title deed. The government should intervene and bail out the distressed farmers," Vasu said. According to Diravidamani, Gudalur DMK MLA, the bandh was a total success. The 10 political parties have jointly sent a memorandum in this connection to Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. S Thirumeni, Gudalur DSP said the bandh went on smoothly as no untoward incidents were reported.

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