A joint team of officials seizes 12 tractors, earth movers

The district administration cracked the whip against the people indulging in conversion of agricultural lands into fishponds in violation of the GO. Ms. No. 7 at Elurupadu in Kalla mandal of West Godavari district on Saturday.

A joint team of the personnel from the Revenue, police and the Fisheries departments seized 12 tractors and a couple of earthmovers engaged in the conversion of the farm fields. The police booked a case against five farmers for their alleged involvement in the offence following a complaint by Shaiklal Mohammad, Assistant Director, Fisheries, Bhimavaram.

According to information, the accused were allegedly converting the fertile agricultural fields with an extent of 12 acres for pisciculture by raising the bunds with 10ft in height without any permission from the authorities concerned.

The team also found felling of coconut trees raised on the bunds of the farm fields as part of the conversion, which is an offence under the Andhra Pradesh Water, Land and Trees Act. In addition, the GO Ms. No. 7 stipulates against conversion of fertile agricultural fields into fishponds.

Bizarre trend

The tough measures from the administration came in the light of the lush green paddy fields fast disappearing into fishponds in the district on a large-scale and the perceived lukewarm impact of the regularisation GO on the bizarre trend. The conversion process is alleged to be more rampant in Kalla mandal, in particular, with over 100 fishponds reportedly being under construction in a nonstop mode in the last three months.

According to information, an extent of fish farming is allegedly being undertaken in 20,000-25,000 acres illegally in different parts of the district. Besides, the paddy fields in 25,000 acres are reportedly facing the threat of conversion.

The conversion is expected to be more rampant in the near future as the officials are expected to be soft in the election year.

The pisciculture is prospering day by day in the district as it is proved to be more profitable for the farmers than paddy cultivation with the lease rates for ponds soaring up to Rs 30,000-Rs 40,000.