The Environment Ministry has set up a seven-member panel to study a proposal to reduce the size of wetland areas around the Kolleru lake sanctuary, one of the largest water bodies for migratory birds in the country.

The panel would have a scientific survey done to decide on the contour levels of the lake as well study the issue both from the perspective of the protection of the livelihoods of the local fisherman and farming communities and the conservation and protection of the wetlands of Kolleru.

The decision to set up the committee has come following strong opposition from the green lobby to a resolution passed by the State Assembly seeking reduction of the size of the sanctuary last year for the benefit of fishermen community.

The conservationists had alleged that if the contour level is reduced then thousands of acres of lake bed will be lost forever. The free area will be exploited by pisciculture and agriculture farming thus tampering with the ecosystem, they had said.

Headed by P. A. Aziz from Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), the panel would recommend to the government on the merits and demerits of the proposal of the Andhra Pradesh Assembly for reduction of the wildlife sanctuary, a government official said. Notified as a wildlife sanctuary in 1999, Kolleru is the largest fresh water lake in the country and home to 173 species of migratory and residential birds as per the Forest Department records. The panel has been asked to interact with all the stakeholders including the people's representatives of the area to study the issue with a holistic view keeping the interests of both the local people and the environment.

“The committee would also look into the matter of paying compensation to the private landowners who are losing their lands to the wildlife sanctuary,” the official added. The committee has to submit its report within three months and a decision will be taken depending on its recommendations.

It would also get a quick scientific survey of the entire area done through satellite mapping to get an actual picture of the status of the lake and the alignment of the contour lines.

RELATED NEWS

‘Reducing Kolleru size unviable’June 24, 2014

More In: Vijayawada