Published: Wednesday 15 January 1997

Taking note of the pollution caused by aqua farms, the SC has ordered their closure, sparing those using traditional methods. As per the court's ruling, all shrimp and prawn farms within 500 m of the coast, on nearly 45,400 ha of ecologically fragile land, have to wind up operations by March 31, 1997. Most of these farms are funded by multinationals and Indian companies. The court directed the farm owners to pay six years of wages to their workers.

The judgement was based on a study of aqua farms in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, carried out by NEERI. As a result of aqua farming, the well water in coastal areas in these states had turned brackish. Organic pollutants had damaged creeks and sea waters and heavy metals had accumulated in creek sediments. Besides, there was increased salinity in the soil which affected the growth of traditionally cultivated crops. Prime agricultural land, estuaries, wetlands and salt production land were being converted into commercial aqua farms.

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