Chilika fishermen threaten to demolish illegal prawn gheris on Apr 29

Bhubaneswar: Aggrieved by the Khurda district administration’s ‘lackadaisical’ approach towards demolishing hundreds of illegal prawn enclosures (gheris in local parlance), the fishermen’s community in Chilika has decided to demolish these on Friday.

The Chilika Matsyajibee Mahasangha has vowed to go ahead with their plan to free the blue lagoon from illegal gheris.

“We are forced to take such a step as this is a question of our livelihood. How will we survive without fishing in the lake on which we are dependent for ages?”asked Dukhishyam Behera, general secretary of the fishermen’s body.

“Every time we approach the administration, it assures to take action. But the action never happens. Come what may, this time we will take law into our own hands and enter inside the lake to demolish the gheris,” warned Behera.

The union said boarding their fishing boats, hundreds of fishermen will demolish the gheris on around 10,000 acres of the brackish water lagoon near Nalabana and Hatabaredi.

“We are always threatened by the prawn mafias, who warn us not to enter the lake for fishing. Sometimes, we dare to venture into it risking our lives. But for how long will it continue? The administration has to take action in this regard,” Rabindra Behera, president of the Mahasangha said.

Meanwhile, the district administration has appealed to the fishermen not to take law into their hands.

“We are always trying to solve the perennial issue in the area. We need co-operation from the community to maintain peace this time as well,” Niranjan Sahu, Collector, Khurda said.

Official sources said adequate force will be deployed in the region to maintain law and order situation.

Chilka, which also extends to Puri and Ganjam districts, encounters the problem of illegal gheris, strangling the lake’s vast areas since decades.