‘Paddy fields fall prey to aquaculture boom, owing to official apathy’

A group of farmers under the banner of the Andhra Pradesh Rytu Sangham (APRS) staged a demonstration at the office of the Fisheries Department here on Friday, resenting the alleged inaction by the West Godavari district administration to check the illegal conversion of paddy fields into aquaculture ponds.

The protesters alleged that the official machinery had remained a mute spectator even as the fertile paddy fields were getting converted into fishponds on a large scale in several areas in the district.

In a bid to drive their point home, the A.P. Rytu Sangham members submitted a petition to the authorities of the Fisheries Department, alleging that a huge fish tank had come up in the survey No.633 at Gundukolanu village illegally. B. Balaram, secretary of the APRS district committee, said the claims of the aqua farmer that he had secured permission for digging a pond in the particular field had proven to be fake, but the administration had turned a clod shoulder towards the issue.

Vast stretches of paddy fields were getting subjected to similar conversions without official permission in over 20 mandals in the district, in collusion with a section of officials at the field level, he alleged.

He said the APRS was planning a district-level agitation to save the paddy fields from the threat of this aquaculture blues.