'Appeal against SC order on ESZ enforcement in Masinangudi'

Thousands of people settled down in Masinagudi, Srimadurai and Nellakottai panchayats fear that their livelihood will be at stake due to the implementation of ESZ.
Traders shut shops protesting enforcement of Eco-Sensitive Zone in Gudalur on Monday
Traders shut shops protesting enforcement of Eco-Sensitive Zone in Gudalur on Monday

COIMBATORE: Shops downed shutters and tourist vehicles stayed off the road in protest against the Forest Department over enforcement of the Supreme Court’s order to create an one kilometer Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) in the buffer areas of Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) in The Nilgiris on Monday.

Thousands of people settled down in Masinagudi, Srimadurai and Nellakottai panchayats fear that their livelihood will be at stake due to the implementation of ESZ. The protestors urged the state government to appeal against the Supreme Court verdict and protect their livelihood.

In a series of protests against the move, the traders in Gudalur and Pandalur taluks hoisted black flags atop their shops on August 25. On Monday, more than 10,000 shops downed shutters resulting in the roads wearing a deserted look in both the taluks in Masinagudi.

Similarly, vehicle movement remained bare minimum on the Ooty-Mysore National Highways and on roads leading to Malappuram and Wayanad. Buses ran with low number of passengers.

In a related protest, more than 200 jeep drivers resorted to hunger strike braving rains against curbs by the Forest Department on vehicles being operated through forest roads with a commercial motive. The Forest Department has informed the safari operators to stop taking tourists into protected areas.

They claimed that people in their villages were dependent on tourism for livelihood and a ban would force them to go without any alternative source of income. “Such curbs will have a chain reaction as not just safari operators, bus resorts and cottages and people employed in them will be at a loss,” claimed the protestors.

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