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Odishatv Bureau

A record number of more than five lakh olive ridley turtles have laid eggs on the coastline of the Gahirmatha Marine Wildlife Sanctuary this year. 

Every year Odisha government prohibits movement of trawlers and other fishing boats in the sensitive 1435 square km zone comprising the marine wildlife sanctuary, the mouths of Dhamra and Devi river for a period of seven months from November 1 to May 31.

The restrictions are imposed to ensure the safety of the turtles during the mating season, nesting, and hatching of the young ones on the beaches. 

However, most of the time, environmentalists raise questions on the efforts of the Odisha government in ensuring safety of the turtles. 

As per sources, two high-speed boats of the forest department have been lying defunct for the last two years which has reportedly hit patrolling activities. 

According to reports, a committee has been set up under the chairmanship of Odisha Chief Secretary to ensure the safety of the sea turtles. The Fisheries Department has also prepared an offline mobile mapping system to make fishermen aware of their presence in case they land in no-fishing zone. 

The government has also requisitioned some high-speed boats from Paradip which is expected to boost the patrolling for protection of the turtles. Similarly, one more boat is also expected to be dispatched to the forest department under the high specific plan. 

"Till now, the Odisha government has implemented the safety measures for Olive Ridleys only on pen and paper. The number of turtle deaths due to lack of conservation is quite shocking. But surprisingly, there have been little efforts on the part of the administration," said Jagannath Das, an environmentalist.

Hemant Rout, secretary of the Kaincha Surakhya Committee said that as many as 12 demands have been put forward before the government at the State-level meeting for safety of turtles but there has been little progress in this regard. 

Jagyandatta Pati, Rajnagar DFO however has assured that adequate steps are being taken at all the levels to ensure protection of the Ridleys which has helped Gahirmatha and Rushikulya evolve as the most favoured destinations for the turtles.

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