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W'Ghats: Sonia to look into Kerala's concern

WGhats: Sonia to look into Keralas concern

Thiruvananthapuram: As protests continued in Kerala over the Centre's direction to implement the Western Ghats conservation report, Congress President Sonia Gandhi Saturday offered to look into the concerns of the state, which has thousands of small and marginal farmers settled on the slopes of the mountain range.

According to Congress MP from Wayanad M I Shanawas, Gandhi had promised to take up the state's concern with the Centre and that farmers would not be evicted from the land they held.

Shanawas called on Gandhi in New Delhi alongwith Bishop Remigius Inchananiyel of Tharamassary Diocese, patron of the resistance group spearheading the campaign in north Kerala, to convey the anxieties of the people in the affected areas.

"The Congress President is seized of the seriousness of the matter. She has assured us that no farmer will be evicted from the land they hold," Shanawas told reporters in Delhi.

Seeking to cool the heat over the issue, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said in Kozhikode that the state government would not implement the Kasturirangan report in haste disregarding the interests of farmers in affected areas.

Meanwhile, the hartal called by the LDF in highrange Idukki and Wayanad districts disrupted normal life but passed off peacefully. The LDF has also called a state-wide hartal for Monday to protest "unilateral imposition" of the recommendations without consulting the state.

The protests over the issue had turned violent in Kozhikode and Kannur districts Friday with irate mobs torching government vehicles and attacking forest department offices.

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