Shrinking the lake size will result in rapid ecological degradation of the entire area, says P. A. Azeez Committee report. Shrinking the lake size will result in rapid ecological degradation of the entire area, eventually resulting in a loss of livelihood even to those with farms above contour +5.

The recent political changes in the State have raised the hopes of those who eked out a living on the Kolleru lake and dashed them when it was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary. The proposed reduction in size of the sanctuary may give them back their livelihood, they feel.

The Telugu Desam Party, the original proponent of the move to reduce the size of the sanctuary from +5 feet above MSL contour line to +3 contour, has come back to power. Former Minister Manganti Venkateswara Rao, who championed the proposal, has been elected to Parliament and former MP Kavuri Sambasiva Rao, another champion of the cause, has joined the BJP, the ruling party at the Centre.

Report

But the P. A. Azeez Committee report will be the biggest hurdle to reduction of the lake size. The committee, constituted of wildlife, forestry, legal and administrative experts, clearly said that “reduction of the present sanctuary area is not a viable solution for the socio-economic and ecological issues confronting the lake.”

Shrinking the lake size will result in rapid ecological degradation of the entire area, eventually resulting in a loss of livelihood even to those with farms above contour +5.

In 1999, 308 square km of the lake falling below +5 contour was declared as Kolleru Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS). The lake could extend to an area up to +10 contour with a water-spread of over 901 square km during monsoon. In summer it could recede to below +3 contour with water spread of just 135 square km or lower at times.

The committee, in its report, recorded that the comparatively shallow lake ecosystem offered excellent habitat for a variety of resident and migratory avian species. More than 200 species of birds visiting the lake and around 100 bird species seen at the lake are migratory birds coming from different parts of Eurasia.

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