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May 20, 2015


Odisha—Shrimp Mafia’s Illegal Farms


In Bhitarkanika National Park, the “shrimp farming mafia” has felled mangroves and other trees to make way for shrimp farms that have blocked the flow of water in the Partasala River, threatening the livelihood of the people in the village of Bhitarkanika.  By building embankments around 5,000 acres of river-side shrimp ponds, the river’s water can’t flow to the sea and is flooding local crops.  In addition, the farms release their effluents into the fields, which increases the salinity level in the soil, said Sudhanshu Parida, an environmentalist and secretary of district unit of People for Animals.


Girija Mandal (62), a farmer of Talachua Village, said, “I used to grow paddy [rice, vegetables] on my two acres of land.  In 2012, some persons converted ten acres of land near my field into shrimp farms and started releasing all the effluents onto my land.  As a result, my land turned barren and is now unfit for raising paddy crops.  Hundreds of other farmers have been ruined due to mushrooming of shrimp gherris [ponds, farms].”


Sources said almost all shrimp farms in Bhitarkanika are illegal as they violate Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms and the directives of Supreme Court and High Court.  It is mandatory for shrimp farms to be registered under Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act and Rules.  But none of the shrimp farms in the national park is registered.


Divisional Forest Officer of Bhitarkanika National Park, Bimal Prasanna Acharya said, “Nobody will be allowed to convert mangrove forest and block the river for shrimp farming.  The Forest Department will demolish all the illegal farms in Bhitarkanika soon.”


Source: The New Indian Express.  Twin threats to Bhitarkanika Park: Illegal Tree Felling, Prawn Farming.  May 18, 2015.

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