Sunday, November 24, 2013

Kasturirangan Report: Crusade in Kerala

There have been eight major crusades from 1095 to 1270 organized by the Roman Church to bring the lands around Jerusalem under control. Minor crusades were also organized against pagans and heretics and for other purposes.  All of them failed. Now the Catholic Churches in Kerala have started a crusade against the Kasturirangan Report which is meant for preservation of the Western Ghats. Their strange bedfellows in this are the Communists and some political parties.

If you ask any of them what the problem is, prompt answer comes “The Report is against the farmers”. Don’t ask how because none of them seem to know the answer. The Report says, “It is because of the harmony between people and nature in the Western Ghats that we recommend policies to promote green growth, sustainable and equitable development across the Western Ghats region.” (Quoted from TOI, Nov. 17, 2013)

Apparently the Church and its partners have started the agitation against the Report without really studying it. The Bishops of Thamarasserry and Idukki started the blaze. The Kerala Catholic Bishops Council subsequently declared support to them and then set up a committee to study the Report. Probably actions like these gave rise to the phrase – setting the cart before the horse.

A couple of days back the media carried pictures of the Thamarasserry Bishop wearing a Gandhi cap and announcing to the people that there would be bloodshed. Actually, his Chancellor was there when blood was shed in Thamaraserry Town earlier in the month. That priest watched the gory events in which many policemen were hurt, several vehicles were destroyed and some government offices were burned.

Blood had been shed earlier too. The Bishop should learn a bit of local history and understand how Christian presence was established in his area. Powerful local timber mafia prevented the settlers from Travancore cultivating the land they had bought in the place. This was around 1940. It was after Jose Kallivayalil with his contact from the Governor of Madras down the line, money and man power entered the scene and defeated the mafia in a long fight the Christians could operate there. Jose Kallivayalil also built a church for them. (See

In Idukki, farmers from the foot hills moved to the High Ranges in the 1920s. Jose Kallivayalil’s father KC Abraham Kallivayalil (Konduparampil Pappen Chettan) bought about 7000 acres from the Vanjipuzha Chief and distributed it among landless farmers from Palai area on sharecropping basis. (See: Remembering grandfather). They were the first ones apart from the big plantations to utilize such lands. KC Abraham too built a church, at Peruvanthanam for his people.

None of these two groups encroached on government lands. The trees in Idukki which were (and are) protected by the Cardamom Hills Reserve rules were left untouched. In the North Kerala area the forests which were denuded by the timber mafia were utilised for eco-friendly cultivation.

The forefathers of those whom the bishops are leading to agitation were people committed to the soil. They toiled and sweated and created a brighter future for the present generation. Don’t let religion mess with that. The Church certainly has better things to do than joining hands with some politicians to protect unlawful quarries, sand mining, encroachment and illegal resorts.

First, study the Report. If there is any deficiency or mistake, it can be discussed and corrected. This is not the early Middle Age for crusades.


Related posts:

Trees are vital


Das said...

No right_minded men/women will ever support the on going agitation being held against Kasturirangan or for that matter against Madav Gadgil.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Thanks Mr. Das. To the extent I know, you are absolutely right.

شقق مفروشة فى الشرقية said...

i love your blog a lot.

Abraham Tharakan said...

شقق مفروشة فى الشرقية Thank you

Abraham Tharakan said...

شقق مفروشة فى الشرقية Thank you

Anonymous said...

Tharakan sareee..kudiyetta karshakante budhimuuttu ariyanamenkil daroru kudiyetta karshakan ayirikkannam
.chummmaa kathanar mare kuttapeduthiyotti karyamillaa...this kasthurirangan report is implemented without consultation with people...thr r many issues in report...

By Oudha Pala

Anand Antony said...

Can't agree more. I can understand the stance of political leaders with election in mind. But church leaders also are descending into the same level! They should remember that respect is earned and is not a divine right. I don't see much to be worried about from the report and as you said genuine concerns can be discussed. The truth is that the agitators, while raising wild and vague allegations are unable to pin-point the specifics. The only silver lining is the emergence of leaders like V.D. Satheesan. Unlike the agitators, he has written articles addressing the issues in simple format and I don't see any reason why the farmers should be worried.

Jacob Chalissery said...

Dear Mr. Tharakan, You are a wonderful person to me and I would love to meet you in person. The report compiled by the committee headed by Dr. Kasturirangan is a landmark report on Westernghats with a large number of flaws. He is a Satellite man who used spatial data without much footwork data to establish ESA's. One such area is Thamarassery. Certain clarifications like equating Laterite quarry's to mining and recommending banning this activity in the ESA is stretching this too far. If we take the report itself it is quite benign, but once this gets into the hands of implementing authority, then you could see actions similar to those which were initiated under EFL. For instance if a dug well is to be constructed in the designated ESA, or harvesting Hevea Brasiliensis trees. When Kerala Govt. made cutting of Jackfruit trees possible under "Kuttipass" the number of JF trees being nurtured increased. The worst affected by these un-thoughtful reports are the people scratching dirt for a living in the hill areas of the westernghats. Let us help them by giving them a meaningful life and provide them with an opportunity for a decent living and not eugoogalize the erstwhile Opium runners.

Mathew Tharakan said...

The primary problem with these reports is that the Ecologically Sensitive Areas were determined without a field survey. It was determined using satellite maps (aka Google maps). Any place with a dense tree cover was classified as a forest and hence marked as ecologically sensitive.

Several densely populated towns and entire taluks were classified as Ecologically Sensitive Areas, and almost all forms of development were banned there.

The Gadgil committee did not have a single representative from among the people who were affected. If so, they would not have made the blunder of using Google Maps to demarcate forests in Kerala.

Several MP/MLA's had pointed out that the committee was comprised entirely of "ecological fundamentalists".

The Kasturi/Gadgil reports prohibited hospitals, petrol pumps, and small scale industrial units that have to rely on kerosene or diesel generators, even temporarily.

One will not be able to buy meat, because slaughter houses are banned.

Beedi theruppu is banned.

Making any form of fertilizer is banned. This includes drying cow dung in the sun.

Traditional blacksmiths are banned.

Making curd (milk processing) is banned.

These are just some of the daily activities of people that are banned under the report.

Please check out the following report (Oommen V. Oommen) when you get a chance. This report spells out the failings of Kasturi and Gadgil reports and suggests solutions.