Travesty of law

Published: Thursday 15 May 1997

MORE than 200 fisherfolk from Andhra Pradesh went on a hunger strike in New Delhi recently to protest against the Aquaculture Authority Bill, 1997, which would virtually nullify the Supreme Court (SC) judgement banning aquaculture in the coastal regulation zone. The bill was debated and cleared within an hour by the Rajya Sabha on March 20. In December 1996, the SC had ordered the demolition of modern aqua farms operating within 500 metres of the sea coast by March 31,1997, on the grounds of soil degradation, marine pollution and hampering traditional fishing.

Ever since, aquaculture industries have been lobbying hard for a legislation that would allow them to resume their business. According to the new bill, aquaculture would be treated as a permissible activity under the Coastal Regulation Zone Act, 1991. Aqua farmers will have to apply for a license within six months of the formation of the concerned authority under law. In the meantime, they can continue aquaculture activities as long as the license is not denied. The bill will now be tabled in the Lok Sabha for final approval.

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