A lake full of woes

The Orissa state government and the high court assume different postures even as the local fisherfolk continue to suffer

Published: Saturday 31 July 1999

the Orissa government has finally decided that there will be no renewal of leases for prawn fishing in the Chilka lake area. The government has also approved of a comprehensive fishery policy for the lake. Jagannath Patnaik, revenue minister of Orissa has said that a bill giving shape to the new policy would be introduced during the budget session of the state assembly.

Meanwhile, the conflict between the state government and the judiciary over the issue has taken a new turn. While the state government went on a demolishing spree of the illegal gheris (enclosures for prawn culture), the Cuttack high court stayed the demolition till June 30. The government, meanwhile, has apparently taken various steps to discourage prawn culture. The order was delivered by a division bench of the high court comprising Justice P Roy and Justice C R Pal.

The orders followed a writ petition by villagers of the Krishnaprasad area, one of the most sensitive areas as far as non-fisherfolk and prawn culture are concerned. The non-fisherfolk have also started another movement against the demands of the fisherfolk for the demolition of the gheris . While the non-fisherfolk around Chilka who are involved in prawn culture say that it is their livelihood, the fisherfolk say that prawn culture and the gheris have deprived them of their livelihood.

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