The dawn-to-dusk hartal called by CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front in Kerala on November 18 to protest against the Centre's move to implement key recommendations of the Kasturirangan Report on Western Ghats' conservation hit normal life, but passed off peacefully. Resistance groups backed by the Catholic Church provided momentum to the protest in Idukki and Wayanad districts where thousands eke out a living by farming small pieces of land.
LDF had rejected Chief Minister Chandy's plea to desist from the shutdown as a final call on the report was yet to be made. Chandy accused CPI(M) of double standards, saying it had earlier favoured implementation of the report after allaying people's apprehensions. But CPI(M) State Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan charged Chandy with distorting facts and said his Party had never entirely backed the Kasturirangan Report. CPI(M)'s position had been that it was an improvement on Madhav Gadgil Report and that people's concerns should be addressed before implementing the conservation measures.
The hartal affected mobility of people with buses, taxis and autos keeping off the roads. Shops remained closed, educational institutions went without classes and attendance was thin in government offices. Barring BJP, most mainstream parties including some partners in Congress-led UDF came out in protest over the issue.
Thiruvananthapuram, November 19, 2013