Seethathode (Pathanamthitta): The Ministry of Environment and Forest is actively considering declaring the areas under the Gavi division of the Kerala Forest Development Corporation (KFDC) as a tiger conservation area.
As part of the move, KFDC has issued letters to workers of Sri Lankan origin residing in the forest, seeking their willingness to vacate if they are granted adequate compensation.
The KFDC's Gavi division office handed over the forms two weeks ago to 160 Tamil workers, the descendants of those who had arrived here as refugees from Sri Lanka during 1971-78. More than 500 people, including the dependants of the workers, are living in Gavi.
Those willing could return the filled-up forms. Division Manager K V Sajeer said no one would be forced to vacate, and the forms expressing willingness would be forwarded to the divisional office in Kottayam.
The move to declare Gavi division as a tiger conservation area after evicting a maximum number of people has been under the active consideration of the forest ministry for the past few years. As part of the move, KFDC Managing Director Prakriti Srivastava held talks with the residents at Gavi two months ago.
The workers said the authorities asked them if they would vacate the place after leaving their jobs and all other rights if they were granted Rs 10 lakh each. Though a few people have backed the package, the majority were not interested to leave after accepting such a meagre compensation.
Some others, however, said they would vacate if awarded a decent compensation. As many as 10 workers have so far agreed to vacate after the forms were issued to them.
The younger generation are seeking more facilities. The residents are facing the absence of internet facilities, uninhabitable houses, shortage of education facilities, inadequate transportation facilities and other issues.
The Gavi forest area falls under the Goodrical range. The road to Kumily-Vallakkadavu from Gavi passes through the Periyar Tiger Reserve. The forest department claimed the presence of tigers in most areas under the KFDC.