Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

In a first, the Puri district administration blew off an illegal prawn gherry in Chilika, Asia's biggest brackish water lagoon, on Friday, as a part of its drive to clean up illegal enclosures from the lake. 

As per reports, mafia have been illegally building enclosures with soil piles for prawn farming in vast stretches of the lake water. Even as the administration had earlier destroyed several prawn culture pond areas, such structures often continued to mushroom again triggering widespread resentment from the locals.

In a bid to finally put an end to the deliberate efforts by prawn mafia, the district administration had formed a special team to evict the encroachments. Amid tight security, the special force blew off encroachment on Friday in the presence of Deputy Collector. 

Though the new mode of evicting illegal gherries didn't work out successfully as expected, further steps will be carried out after a brief discussion with the special team, informed Bhabatarana Sahoo, Deputy Collector, Puri.

"Earlier, we had implemented manual method of evicting the illegal gherries but every time we demolish a structure, it used to stand back. So we had to come out with the blasting method hoping that they won't reconstruct it as it would loosen the soil base and thereby reduce the chance of rebuilding the gherries. We have implemented the method for the first time and we will continue the eviction in this process, said Sahoo.

Earlier in April, the Orissa High Court had ordered the eviction of illegal prawn gherries at Chilika, Bhitarkanika and from other eco-sensitive wetlands in Puri and Ganjam districts.