After a hiatus, the Odisha government has started evicting illegal prawn enclosures in Chilika Lake, which is likely to improve ecological health of Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon.
The Chilika Development Authority (CDA), the regulatory body for the lake, has begun planned eviction of prawn gherries (enclosures) from Sunday.
“We are beginning eviction of illegal gherries from the Krushnaprasad block of Puri district. Three platoons of police and senior officials were deployed to ensure smooth eviction,” said CDA Chief Executive Susanta Nanda.
In 2017, CDA had uprooted enclosures over 160 sq km. “This time we are going for eviction in 40 sq km area,” said Mr. Nanda. A few years ago, satellite imageries had found 14,590 hectare of the lagoon under manmade gherries for illegal prawn cultivation.
During COVID-19 pandemic last year, a few net gherries had again come up, though in smaller numbers. District administrations of Puri, Ganjam and Khordha have been intimated of the exact status.
Endangered Irrawaddy dolphins were the first beneficiaries of the eviction drive. The mammals could move unhindered in Chilika Lake. In Rambha sector, dolphins were sighted for the first time in three decades. Besides, there was sudden increase in the population of ducks who prefer to dive in open water. Their population was noticed during the current season, particularly in the prawn gherries evicted areas.