The court order came as a result of the complaint filed by Mohit Agarwal, the amicus curiae of the court who pointed out that despite it being common knowledge, no action is being taken against the exploiters.
Moreover, the court also ordered the Collector of the Kendrapara district where the park is located to arrange for satellite verification of the entire district to ensure the proper location of these ventures and strict action against it.
It is important to note that this is not the first time that action has been taken against this illegal business, the same demolition drive happened and was reported on the 27th of December, 2020. It was basically situated in the Badatubi and Sanatubi villages of Kendrapura last time.
But the court expressed concern on how it did not lead to the end of this exploitation of resources and the illegal business just continued.
Moreover, the poor progress upon the issue is also important to note because the discontinuity of these illegal farms is an urgent necessity for the revival of drinking water resources.
After the order came in March, for all these months the planning and other activities have continued throughout.
Niranjan Behera, the sub-collector of Kendrapara, said the administration had started the demolition of prawn farms built over forest and government land in Dibakarpur village within the park on June 17, 2021.
He added that all these shrimp farms were illegal as it was violating the rulings of the Supreme Court and High Court.
Like the plan that happened last time but could not be executed, the forest department is affixed to plant mangrove saplings over the dismantled prawn farms to make the space useful as a mangrove forest.
Behera informed, “Prawn farm owners also dump the effluents of the gherries into the nearby rivers and ponds. They also pollute the groundwater sources in the villages. Illegal prawn farms also pose a direct threat to the nearby mangrove forests.
Recently, many villagers of these areas blamed the mushrooming of illegal prawn farms and their effluents for destroying their fertile agricultural lands.”
However, many locals claimed that this drive is not going to be efficient as officials allowed the owners to collect their prawns from their farms before the demolition began.
Also, in many places, the officials destroyed only those parts of the farms which could be rebuild and repaired very quickly without causing much damage to them.
This compliance and alliance, among the officers and the prawn farm owners, is not helping the cause and only let it go on for another time.
The officials have demolished the farms uncountable times in a row now, the most recent being in last year December, and the drive continued in the past months of 2021 but sadly it is not bearing any effects.
The farm owners manage to repair these farms each time and are still managing to keep their business up.
Mamata Mohapatra, the district fisheries officer of Kendrapara informed that only 729 shrimp farmers had registered their farms covering 1400 acres of land in the district while the actual number goes much higher and is illegal.
She said, “But other shrimp farms are illegal as this violates the Coastal regulation Zone and the rulings of the Supreme Court and High Court.
Farmers cultivating shrimp without registering with the Coastal Aquaculture Authority are liable to be imprisoned for three years and levied a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh.”
Hemant Rout, an environmentalist told the environmental newspaper, DownToEarth that, “in 2015, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change declared 192 villages around Bhitarkanika as Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) to prevent ecological damage caused due to developmental activities.
ESZs prohibit shrimp farming within two kilometers from Bhitarkanika. For this, the administration should demolish all illegal prawn farms.”