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Land sharks gnawing away Penna delta

Land sharks gnawing away Penna delta
Highlights

Penna Delta in the district is gradually vanishing with encroachments allegedly by aqua farmers and the illegal cultivation is found to be a threat for the existence of coastal population. The delta is shrinking on the lines of Kolleru Lake as the flow of water into sea has been disturbed at many coastal areas that would pose a serious threat for villages with inundation problem during heavy rains in the future.

  • Many areas along the coast are encroached for illegal aqua farming
  • No survey has been done for confirming the encroachments

Nellore: Penna Delta in the district is gradually vanishing with encroachments allegedly by aqua farmers and the illegal cultivation is found to be a threat for the existence of coastal population. The delta is shrinking on the lines of Kolleru Lake as the flow of water into sea has been disturbed at many coastal areas that would pose a serious threat for villages with inundation problem during heavy rains in the future.


The Penna River has its origin in the Chennakesava Hills, Northwest of Nandi Hills in Karnataka and is popularly known as ‘Uttara Pinakini’. It enters Andhra Pradesh in Anantapur district and arrives in Nellore district through a narrow gorge in the Veligonda range of hills that falls on the western part of the district.


Penna runs north and east through AP and enters the Bay of Bengal. It is 597-km long with a drainage basin 55,213 square km large. This river basin occupies nearly 55,213 km area and is an interstate river with 6,937 km and 48,276 km river basin area located in AP and Karnataka, respectively.


As severe famines occurred in the coastal districts, the East India Company took up delta irrigation works across the River Godavari, Krishna and Penna in the middle of the 19th century. There are Sangam and Nellore anicuts in the district and 2.50 lakh farmers are relying on Penna waters.


But, aqua farmers, who eyed on the rich area under the river in coastal mandals, started encroaching the land and the ceaseless infringement has been continuing for some decades. The district is now exporting aqua products like L Vannamei prawn and popularly known Whiteleg shrimp worth Rs 6,000 crore annually.


“Hundreds of acres of these rich lands have been encroached by some in the guise of farmers. Around 150-200 acres of land only in Utukuru mandal was occupied illegally. Since the river is joining the Bay, the land is rich in fertility and hence aqua cultivation came up at many places.


Though these lands are being encroached, no action has been taken by the government to contain the menace,” said a retired village-level revenue official from Vidavalur mandal. Normally, original owners of lands charge Rs 1 lakh per acre for aqua farming but these illegal holders are collecting Rs 50,000 per acre.


Some people are acting as sleeping partners and collecting share from the people who occupy lands on lease basis for farming. Local fishermen leaders are also involved in the illegal cultivation and they are mum on the ongoing irregularities.

By:P V Prasad

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