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Sharmili Mallick

Hundreds of traditional fishermen from Aul block of Kendrapara district who depend on the income derived from catching, processing and selling fish from Kharasrota and Brahmani rivers, are on the verge of losing their livelihood.

The fishermen alleged that due to rampant illegal fishing activities by the mafia, who use mechanised trawlers and even mix poison in the water to kill and catch fish, the rivers are becoming gradually polluted. Moreover, there has been a decrease in the variety and quantity of fish in the two rivers.

The fishermen community further alleged that despite repeated complaints to the concerned district administration, no tangible steps have been taken till date to check the mafia menace.

The fishermen claimed with incomes falling and no alternative source of earning available, many indigenous fishermen have migrated or given up fishing altogether.

A fisherman from Aul, Madhabananda Mahalik, alleged, “Some people mix poison in the water to kill fishes and use trawlers entire night to catch fish due to which the catch of fishermen like use who use country boats and small fishing nets have decreased.”

“The trawlers venture into the deep waters and catch a huge amount of fish. We approached the district administration earlier in this regard and requested them to conduct patrolling. But our appeals have remained unheard,” said another fisherman, Sitaram Sahoo.

The locals also alleged that due to the consumption of the polluted water from the Kharasrota and Brahmani rivers, people have also started developing a host of skin and kidney ailments. Besides, the use of poison and trawlers has also posed a threat to crocodiles and other aquatic species.

More than 2,000 fishermen of Aul Block in the district depend on Kharasrota and Brahmani rivers, considered the lifelines of the district, for sustenance.

Meanwhile, the Tehsildar at Aul,  Tapan Kumar Senapati, said action will be taken against the people indulged in illegal fishing in the rivers.

“They (mafia) are carrying out fishing activities during night time. I have spoken to the IIC of the local police station and concerned officials from the fishery department over the plight of the fishermen. Concrete steps will be taken in this regard soon,” claimed Senapati.

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