A large group of people living in villages deep inside the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary are set for an occupy stir which will see them forcefully occupy bungalows, buildings and revenue land under the forest department in the district in protest against government delay in implementing the relocation package promised to them long ago.

The villagers, comprising around 2,600 tribal and nontribal families from 110 settlements situated deep within the WWS, had voluntarily expressed their willingness to move out of the forest three years back. The unique project, if implemented, could have added over 1500 acres to the sanctuary, making it one of the largest voluntary relocation programmes in the country.

Two wildlife sanctuaries — Silent Valley National Park and Wayanad — have been closed to visitors since Friday following high fire risk.

Scanty summer showers and dried vegetation have heightened the fire risk in most of the protected areas of the State. The restriction on tourism activities and curbs on visitors were enforced at the sanctuaries to minimise risk of fire, said V. Gopinath, Chief Wildlife Warden, Kerala. Though sporadic incidents of fire were reported from some forest areas in the State, the situation was under control, Mr. Gopinath said.

Ailment Reported For The First Time In State, Claims Life Of 50-Year-Old

The health department is fighting the first outbreak of Lyme disease in the state in human settlements inside the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. The disease has claimed the life of a 50-yearold woman while four others have been affected so far. All the affected belong to Nambiarkunnu at Chettiyalathur in Noolpuzha panchayat. The disease was confirmed in blood tests conducted at the Manipal Centre for Virus Research this week.

The State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) has decided not to grant environmental clearance to any proposals coming under the Ecologically Sensitive Zone-1 of the Western Ghats.

The decision comes in the wake of a direction issued by the National Green Tribunal that the recommendations of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) report should be considered while granting environmental clearance to projects in the ESZ-1 in the Western Ghats. ESZ-I areas are those which fall outside the boundaries of wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests but have been given the status of a protected area in the WGEEP report.

35 Dams Constructed Provide Perennial Waterholes For Wild Animals

Thiruvananthapuram: An eco-friendly initiative by the forest department deep inside the forest areas of the state is slowly turning into a perennial waterhole for hundreds of wild animals, this summer. The state forest department, to counter the drought inside the forests, has constructed around 35 check dams across many rivers which originate from the Western Ghats, blocking the flow of the water before letting it flow down into the villages bordering the buffer zones of the Ghats.

As part of a project to tackle man-animal conflict in the North Wayanad forest division, villages bordering the forests in the Thirunelly grama panchayat limits have been ringed with a 34-km solar fence to stave off raids by wild animals. The Kerala Forest Development Corporation has installed the fence for the Forest and Wildlife Department. The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has financed the work.

Minister for Forests K.B. Ganesh Kumar inaugurated the first phase of the project at Kattikulam, near Mananthavady, on Tuesday.

WGEEP Had Sought Ban In Eco-Sensitive Zones

Thiruvanathapuram: Green activists in the state have expressed their shock over the government’s response to the recommendations of the Western Ghats Expert Ecology Panel (WGEEP) that seek a ban on mining activities in the ecosensitive zones (ESZ) in Kerala. The government, in its response, said that a complete ban of mining in ESZs would put lakhs of migrant labourers from other states at the receiving end and would create unpredictable and adverse consequences in the industrial, economic, labour and social sectors in the state.

Union Forest Ministry asks States to submit report before February 15

The Forest and Wildlife Department will work on demarcating ecologically sensitive zones around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the State as per directions of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF). V. Gopinath, Chief Wildlife Warden, told mediapersons here on Monday that the eco sensitive zones would be identified as per Section 3 of the Environment Protection Act as well as Rules 5 (1) of Environment Protection Rules.

Say they have not been paid compensation

Sixteen families relocated from the Kottamkara hamlet inside the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary are planning to reoccupy the deserted place on Saturday in protest against the alleged negligence of the State government in paying them compensation. The families, 11 of them tribal, will stage the protest under the aegis of the Wayanad Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary Rehabilitation Action Council, S. Shobhankumar, convener of the council, said here on Thursday.

While the government is seeking world heritage status for the Edakkal Caves on the Ambukuthy hills in Wayanad district, famous for its Neolithic petroglyphs, illegal granite quarrying and fast urbanisation in the vicinity of the caves are posing a serious threat to the rock engravings.

The government had banned all types of construction activities on the premises of the caves to conserve the rock engravings a few years ago. But, construction work for shopping complexes, on both sides of the road to the caves, and illegal quarrying by using explosives have been going on without constraint. The impact of the activities is posing a serious threat to the rock shelters.