BJP calls Kodagu bandh on July 12. Move to please timber lobby?
Apparently under pressure from the timber lobby, the Kodagu unit of the BJP has called for a Kodagu bandh on July 12 to protest against the inclusion of five sites in Kodagu among the World Heritage Site lists.
The World Heritage Committee at its meeting held on July 1 at St. Petersberg (Russia) decided to include 39 sites of the Western Ghats on the World Heritage List. Out of the 39 sites, there are 19 sites from Kerala, 10 from Karnataka, six from Tamil Nadu and four from Maharashtra, spread across nearly 80,000 sq km.
Addressing a news conference, Madikeri MLA M P Appacchu Ranjan said the BJP opposed the move to include Western Ghats among the World Heritage sites because this would impede developmental activities. “The people of the district have been conserving forest for generations. In the name of world heritage site, we will not allow outsiders to come and misuse the local heritage,” the MLA added.
The MLA said the bandh will be observed from 6 am to 6 pm. He warned:
“If the name of Kodagu is not dropped out of the list, then we will hold series of protest and will gherao Central government offices.”
District BJP unit President B D Manjunath sought the resignation of Western Ghats Task Force Chairman Ananth Hegde Ashisara for welcoming the inclusion of the Western Ghats in the list.
EDITOR’S VIEW: The bandh call given by the BJP is against the interests of Kodagu. The decision for the bandh has been taken by the saffron politicians, without consulting the people.
There is no doubt that most of the elected representatives from Kodagu represent the interests of the powerful timber lobby. Besides, the BJP politicians are misleading the people by stating that they would lose all their timber rights on their lands. This is far from the truth.
The people of Kodagu have already started feeling the effects of climate changes that are taking place on account of the deforestation in the district.
It is time the politicians stopped playing with the lives of the people. The BJP has been known to use muscle power to impose the bandh. They may be successful in their effort, but the saffron brigade will definitely lose public sympathy if they continue to take up anti-people causes. The BJP leaders should first try to improve the condition of roads in Kodagu, instead of taking up non-issues.