Tamil farmers encroach AP Pulicat lands
Tamil farmers encroach AP Pulicat lands

Nellore: Hundreds of acres of lands located on Pulicat lake are being cultivated by Tamil Nadu farmers as Andhra Pradesh officials keep mum. They were extending the cultivation from Tamil Nadu borders to AP gradually through brackish water culture.

Brackish water aquaculture, also known as coastal aquaculture, is a rapidly expanding farming activity. But, this is banned in protected zone of lake which has been declared as an eco-sensitive area. S Jagannathan of Chennai had filed a petition earlier in the Supreme Court for regulating unabated shrimp farming in coastal areas in 1991. 

The petition sought the enforcement of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification of 1991, under which all activity in coastal zone within 500 meters of High Tide Line (HTL) and near creeks, backwaters, estuaries and other water-bodies influenced by tidal action, was regulated and sought the stoppage of intensive and semi-intensive type of shrimp farming in the ecologically fragile coastal areas.

On December 11, 1996, the Supreme Court directed demolition of all shrimp farms set up within 500 metres of HTL and alongside creeks, backwaters, estuaries, rivers and within 1,000 metres of Chilka Lake in Odisha and Pulicat Lake in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry by March 31, 1997. The apex court also directed establishment of a special authority to protect coast and it was subsequently formed headquartering Chennai.

The special authority alone will issue licence for all aquaculture industry outside this area. It will also assess the loss caused to ecology and to villagers and collect damages from prawn farms.  Still, there is no such precincts to farmers of Tamil Nadu who take up culture in the areas of their state and started close to AP.

Pulicat Lake is the second largest brackish water lake located in Tamil Nadu and AP. Studies found the Pulicat Lake water spread area and lake mud area have been reduced from 28,758.63 ha to 26,848.36 ha and 22,841.67 ha to 21,627.27 ha during 1967-2014 respectively. The development of aquaculture was estimated to be 382.77 ha along the lake channel and aquaculture farms were mostly converted from agricultural lands.

Interestingly, these farms have been releasing pollutants into lake system spoiling its environs. The guidelines of government regarding Coastal Regulatory Zone are being implemented in AP and TN farmers were disregarding them. Even farms located in TN zone are also polluting areas in AP which is impacting livelihood of 10,000 fishermen of 17 habitations. 

M Hima Sailaja, DFO-Wildlife wing, Sullurpet, said they had not received  any such complaints and would take stern action if they violate norms.

By P V Prasad