The West Godavari district administration is planning to constitute joint teams with the personnel from the Forest, Revenue and the Fisheries departments to check encroachments in Kolleru Wildlife Sanctuary. Joint Collector T. Baburao Naidu said this while speaking at a review meeting on the fate of the sanctuary after the operation Kolleru programme.

Territorial jurisdictions for each team would be demarcated so as to keep a check on conversion of the sanctuary area for fishponds from time to time. According to a note circulated by the Forest Department at the meeting, an extent of 6,550 acres in the plus five contours of the lake was subjected to conversions for aquaculture till date.

338 cases booked

The Forest Department has booked 338 cases against the farmers involved in using the zerayiti (private) lands owned by them for pisciculture.

The note attributed the alleged delay on the part of the administration in acquisition of the zerayiti lands by paying compensation to the owners to the re-emergence of fishponds in the sanctuary area. There was an extent of 14,000 acres of the zerayiti lands within the plus five contours of the lake falling under the Krishna and the West Godavari districts and the government required to have 655 crore for payment of compensation to the zerayiti farmers, it said.

Eluru Revenue Divisional Officer K. Nageswara Rao said the administration required Rs. 15 crore for demolition of ponds which came up in the sanctuary area. He also proposed to establish check posts at strategic points to be jointly manned by the Forest, Revenue and the Police personnel for prevention of the movement of earthmovers and trucks carrying fish feed into the prohibited zone. The lack of coordination among the government agencies responsible for protection of the sanctuary and a sense of insecurity in the official machinery at the grassroots level came to the fore in course of an interaction the Joint Collector had with the Tehsildars of seven mandals in Kolleru falling under West Godavari district and the Village Revenue Officers and the Revenue Inspectors.