Frame Chilika policy soon: Court

Refusing to interfere with the ongoing demolition of unauthorised prawn culture encroachments in Chilika, the Orissa High Court in a significant ruling on Friday directed the State government to frame a detailed Chilika policy soon to ensure that no shrimp culture ponds are set up within one kilometre of the lake as directed by the Supreme Court in 1996.

The High Court also asked the government to remove all encroachments from the lake and provide adequate protection to primary fishermen of the area to carry on their traditional fishing practices for the purpose of earning their livelihood. These comprehensive directions came from the Division Bench of Chief Justice V. Gopala Gowda and Justice B.N. Mohapatra while disposing of two writ petitions filed in connection with the ongoing controversies of demolition of encroachments in Chilika Lake. While disposing of a writ filed by one Jogendranath Tarai—who had sought for HC’s interference over demolition of an earthen embankment in Chilika by the local administration, the Bench said it was not inclined to interfere in the matter as the same is being done as per Supreme Court’s order.

“We are not inclined to interfere with the demolition activities undertaken by the government for evicting unauthorised prawn culture in Chilika which is in conformity with the judgment of the Apex Court in S. Jagannath V/s Union of India case and the Chilika fishing policy framed by the government of Orissa”, the Bench said.

Prawn culture

Similarly, allowing the petition filed by Ambika Primary Fishing Cooperative Society, a registered body of traditional fishermen of the area, the High Court granted much-awaited relief to the local fishermen and directed the government to frame a fresh Chilika policy removing all illegal encroachments within one kilometre of the lake.

“The State government shall take effective steps to ensure that no aquaculture industry or shrimp culture ponds shall be constructed or set up within 1000 mts of Chilika Lake. If such industries are already functioning, the same shall be closed down or demolished forthwith”, the HC said. The HC also asked the local district administration to ensure that all encroachments are removed from Chilika and adequate protection is provided to the primary fishermen, including the fishermen registered under the petitioner cooperative society to carry on their traditional as well as improved fishing for the purpose of earning their livelihood.

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