Pradeep Pattanayak

The Orissa High Court on Friday directed the CDA, DFO, Chilika and the Fisheries department to free the famous Mangalajodi bird sanctuary from the operation of noisy boats and submit affidavits on steps to be taken to make the bio-diversity zone free from noise pollution.

While hearing a PIL, filed by local resident Dibakar Behera, on the rampant operation of boats in the bird sanctuary on virtual mode, the HC expressed concerns while directing the authorities to hold discussions with the fishing community in Mangalajodi area and make them understand the harmful effects of the noise created by boats on the migratory avian species. The court directed the authorities to file affidavits on the steps initiated within three days.

The chief executive officer of the Chilika Development Authority (CDA), Chilika’s divisional forest officer (DFO) and Fisheries department officer appeared before the HC during the virtual hearing. 

Asish Mishra, the counsel appearing for the petitioner said, “Mangalajodi is ecologically a very sensitive zone. Fishermen usually cross this zone, spreading over eight kilometres, to cast nets in the sea.” Mishra said taking serious cognizance of the damage the fishermen are inflicting to the zone, the High Court has directed the parties to have discussion with the fishermen from Mangalajodi, make them understand the importance of the bird sanctuary, why these birds are referred to as ‘guests’ and how they should therefore be treated. “The respondents have also been asked to submit an affidavit regarding steps to be taken to stop boat operation. The Court has given three days time to them to do this,” Mishra added. 

February 18 has been fixed for the next hearing. 

Notably, Behera, a resident of Mangalajodi, had filed the PIL wherein he has pleaded that the indiscriminate use of motor boats for fishing in the silent waters of the lagoon disturbs the winged guests. In the petition, the petitioner has requested the court to order complete curb on the operation of diesel-run motor boats and instruct the Chilika authorities to take stringent action against the violators of the guidelines and those who are operating such boats. 

Chilika is famous as a haven for migratory birds as lakhs of winged guests of different species throng the lagoon every year.