The Kollam District administration has not cleared any scheme to cull cormorants, District Panchayat (DP) president K. Somaprasad said at a press conference on Thursday.

He had called the press meet following media reports on a controversial scheme to cull cormorants by shooting them down.

The scheme was mentioned in the Integrated District Development Plan (IDDP) for Kollam that was prepared by the District Planning Committee (DPC).

The scheme mentioned in the IDDP was only a draft proposal that had not been cleared. In 19 categories, 556 schemes were proposed by the DPC in the IDDP and these were printed and distributed. But none of them have been cleared. These were only proposals for the consideration of Local Self Government Institutions (LSGI), he said.

Even as cormorants are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, the scheme favoured culling them for the purpose of conserving and augmenting the fish wealth of the inland water bodies on grounds. It was said the fish eating cormorants are the major cause for depletion of the fish wealth in such water bodies.

When asked how something which was against the law of the land managed to find a place in a government document as a draft scheme, Mr. Somaprasad said while preparing the IDDP the legal aspects of many proposals could not be considered. This aspect would be considered only at the time of taking up the proposal for clearance.

A misunderstanding of the draft proposal triggered the news reports, he said. It was only one among several proposals to be considered for augmenting the fish wealth in the inland water bodies. But neither the DP nor any other LSGI took a decision to implement that scheme.

Mr. Somaprasad, however, pointed out that among the eight causes identified for the fast depletion of fish wealth in the inland water bodies, the cormorants were one of the major cause.

Earlier studies stated that there were 97 species of fish in the Ashtamudi Lake. But when the studies were repeated in the year 2000, there were only 57 species in the lake. This number now was only 37. An increase in the cormorant population was the major cause for this, he said.

The birds were prolific; they have virtually no predators and enjoy a comparatively long life span. So in the long run some scheme in tune with the Wildlife Act should be there to control the population of these birds, he added.

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