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Odishatv Bureau

Puri: With mafia raj’s monopoly over prawn fishing in Chilika deterring growth of natural resources in the lagoon ecosystem and destroying the aesthetic beauty of this famous tourist destination, Chilika Development Authority carried out extensive eviction of illegal prawn gherries at Krushnaprasad area in Nalaban bird sanctuary.

The demolition drive was carried out over 1100 square km area.

The move came after a special OTV telecast of rampant illegal shrimp cultivation in the lagoon earlier on July 18.

Illegal gherries have deterred spawning habitat of fishes while hindering the feeding ground for birds. This has resulted in drastic reduction in fishery resources and scarcity of food for birds as well.

“The purpose of the eviction was to free the area enclosed by mafia and will help increase fishery resources besides attracting more number of birds to this tourist destination. We will continue this operation until we have cleared all the gherries,” a senior CDA official told mediapersons.

Since earlier the power to exercise eviction drive against the encroachments was not vested with the CDA but under the OMFRA Act, the authorities can now carry out their standard operating procedures to control illegal fishery activities, the official added.

Reports suggested that despite repeated warnings from the administration, some influential persons have indulged in monopolising prawn cultivation by gheraoing thousands of acres of waters through gherries. Their rampant activities have been going on for many years now and has nearly left local fishermen lurch for their livelihood.

Meanwhile, fishermen have warned local authorities to make sure that if the illegal fishing activities do not stop then a major public unrest cannot be ruled out.

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