Activists in Kharghar are eagerly awaiting concrete action from the City Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) to remove nets laid by local fishermen in the Kharghar Sector 16 wetlands to prevent birds from entering the area being used for shrimp farming.
The minutes of the order recently passed by the Wetland Complaint Redressal Committee, in response to a complaint filed by one of its own panel members, D Stalin, is the basis for activists to have some hope in preservation of wetlands.
Conservationists say the vast wetland has become a commercial fishing hub. Local fishermen are also violating wildlife protection law by preventing the entry of birds into the wetlands by setting up bird nets on the wetlands and thus denying them access to food.
“We have received the minutes of the committee meeting where CIDCO was asked to remove the nets placed on the wetlands. Additionally, CIDCO has also been asked to look into the issue of local fishermen altering the water flow in the area,” said Naresh Chandra Singh, an activist.
Until a few years ago, the area according to the inventory of wetlands consisted of mangroves. “Gradually, it was transformed into a pond area and used for traditional fishing. But, over the years, even that activity has transformed and now the area is thriving in commercial fishing and shrimp farming. For the company, there are machines placed which include heavy generators and the most surprising factor is that the fishermen even bought electricity when the land belongs to CIDCO. The fishermen have covered the lake with nets so that the birds do not feed on the shrimp. It is illegal and a gross violation,” Singh said.
The wetland is further stated to have been the most desirable location for flamingos, but commercial use of the area has put an end to bird visitation. A senior CIDCO official in charge of mangrove issues said the nets should be removed as soon as possible.
“Fishermen have been given verbal warnings not to engage in illegal practices. In fact, some time ago their machines were also deleted. The fishermen, however, said they would conduct the fishery in the traditional way, but now that there is an order for the removal of the net. We will carry out an inspection and also remove the nets,” the official said.