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INDIA Kerala, Archbishop opposes eviction of farmers from ecological zones

Monsignor Pamplany participated in the protest against the High Court order that threatens to dispossess 1.2 million people who live in areas near the forests of their land. “The funny thing is that today snakes and wild boars have protection, but humans don’t.”

Kannur () – The Archbishop of the Diocese of Thalassery, Mar Joseph Pamplany, participated in a farmers’ protest on June 21 in Cherupuzha, in the Kannur district. The farmers refuse to accept the order of the High Court of India, which imposed on June 3 the creation of a one kilometer eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around all nature reserves and national parks.

In the last two weeks, farmers in the mountainous areas of Kerala have organized various forms of protests to urge the central and state governments to seek legal solutions for their eviction from their homes in these protected areas. They fear that the June 3 ruling will lead to mass evictions from agricultural land located in the buffer zones. Kerala’s population density is around 360 people per square kilometer, three times higher than the national average. Observers anticipate that the state will be one of the hardest hit if the measure is implemented.

In a sign of solidarity with the peasants, the archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church also donned a hat made from areca nut leaves, traditionally worn by peasants to protect themselves from the sun and rain while working in the fields.

Monsignor Pamplany denounced that the High Court order would expel 1.2 million peasants living in the Kerala territory from their land. “It is a measure that could create divisions within the state, when everyone should work together regardless of political, caste and religious differences,” he said.

Addressing farmers, the bishop added that the Church will always support farmers who are at risk of losing their livelihoods. “The funny thing is that today snakes and wild boars have protection, but not humans,” he said. The government never cared about the farmers. We will not allow these initiatives.”

Earlier Cardinal George Allencherry, Senior Archbishop of the Syro-Malabars, had also expressed concern about the consequences of the ordinance in Kerala. In a June 9 statement he stated: “Protection of the environment has always been the policy of the Church. But imposing the full weight of environmental protection on those who live in areas bordering the forests is unfair”.



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Written by Editor TLN

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