Lack of clarity in satellite survey report on ESZ sparks concerns

Serious concerns have been raised over the government’s preliminary satellite survey report on human habitations in eco-sensitive zones (ESZ) — buffer zones around protected forests, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

The report’s lack of clarity has led to widespread complaints as well.

As much as 90 percent of human habitations in Amboori and Vazhichal villages in Thiruvananthapuam’s Amboori panchayat are in the ESZ. This would affect at least 20,000 families residing in these two villages.

In Kollam, areas falling under Aryankavu, Kulathupuzha and Thenmala panchayats have been included in the ESZ. About 20 kilometers of the Sabarimala forests share its borders with human habitations in Koruthodu, Peruvanthanam and Mundakayam panchayats in Kottayam district.

Ernakulam’s clarity missing in Idukki

The report has provided only block and survey numbers in Idukki district. In the neighboring Ernakulam district, it has a detailed sketch, identifying each place.

The map of Ernakulam’s Mangalavanam has specifically identified each place. The LuLu Mall and Bolgatty Palace could be identified in the map.

However, in Idukki, even those familiar with the place could not identify the places included in the map. Color-coding of buildings falling under different categories, too, are confusing in Idukki.

In several districts, questions have been raised over the accuracy of colour-coding.

High court in ESZ

The Thattekad Bird Sanctuary and Mangalavanam are the only protected forests in Ernakulam. The Mangalavanam in Kochi city center is the only protected urban forest in Kerala.

Areas neighboring Mangalavanam, the high court building, Marine Drive, Bolgatty and Thanthoni Thuruthu, will fall under the construction-regulated zone.

In Thrissur, 1,760 survey plots spread over 19 panchayats and one municipality fall under the ESZ.

Farmers at a loss

The survey numbers at Kannamala village in Silent Valley region’s Attappadi have been marked as 1, 2, 3, and so on. The farmers here are at a loss. With no internet access, they cannot check the report. A higher secondary school, places of worship, residential buildings and farmlands fall under the ESZ in the region.

The Thirunelli panchayat in Wayanad has been included in the buffer zone of the Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary. However, the report has not provided a list of survey plots included in the zone. Block numbers are missing from the map of the Bathery municipality.

Several major buildings, including places of worship, in Bathery municipality are not marked in the map. The human habitations in the forest villages of Chettiyalathur, and Chethalayam Bathery-Pulpally road are also missing in the map.

The Kottiyoor panchayat in Kannur has been marked as part of Wayanad’s Mananthavady taluk. Several human habitations, including tribal hamlets, and buildings are missing in the map.

Additionally, farmlands with dense green cover resembling forests and the houses in such areas, too, are missing.

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