Kendrapara, September 1 (LocalWire): Taking stern action against illegal prawn farming, the forest officers have demolished over 300 acres of gherries in Mahakalapada, Rajnagar and Rajkanika blocks in the Bhitarkanika National Park and its nearby areas in the district.
The forest department had also sought deployment of police forces during the demolition drive.
“We have demolished illegal shrimp farms in the forest and revenue land during the last two days. We will demolish all illegal shrimp farms in the district soon.
These shrimp farms inside the park are illegal as it violates the Coastal Regulation Zone and the ruling of the Supreme Court and the High Court,” Kendrapara district collector Samarth Verma.
Three years back, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had declared 192 villages around Bhitarkanika National Park as Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs).
The ESZ is aimed to prevent ecological damage caused due to developmental activities around an environmentally sensitive area and Bhitarkanika is known as India’s second-largest mangrove forest after Sundarban in West Bengal.
“ESZ prohibits any shrimp farming within two kilometers radius of Bhitarkanika and the authorities should demolish all illegal prawn farms in the zone,” noted environmentalist and Gahiramatha Marine Turtle and Mangrove Conservation Society (GMTMCS) secretary Hemant Rout said.
“Prawn farm owners also dump the effluents of the prawn gherries into the nearby rivers and ponds and pollute the groundwater sources in the villages. Illegal prawn farms also pose a direct threat to the nearby rich mangrove forests,” Rout added.
Farmers from the villages along the coast also allege that the mushrooming prawn farms and its effluents were destroying their fertile agricultural lands.