Andhra Pradesh

Environmentalists up in arms against Kolleru denotification

A file photo of the Kolleru Lake at Pandiripalligudem.

A file photo of the Kolleru Lake at Pandiripalligudem.   | Photo Credit: CH_VIJAYA BHASKAR

‘Efforts of expert panels to highlight the importance of the lake have gone waste’

Environmentalists are up in arms against the denotification of over 20,000 acres from the Kolleru Wildlife Sanctuary.

After two expert committees had rejected the proposal to reduce the size of the sanctuary from contour +5 feet to +3 feet, the denotification of nearly 15,000 Zeroyiti (private) lands and another 5,600 acres with D-pattas was like “making a back-door entry,” they said on Friday.

Inundation threat

Former Agriculture Minister Vadde Sobhanadreeswara Rao said fish tanks with mud banks would be constructed in the 20,000 acres of the lake. These tanks would become a hindrance to the free flow of water from various rivulets and streams that empty into the lake during monsoon. The excess water in the lake flows into the sea through the Upputeru drain. When there was no free flow, the areas around the lake would be inundated, he explained.

Fish tanks had to be demolished as part of the Operation Kolleru for the same reason. As an alternative, Mr. Rao suggested that cage-culture be encouraged.

Panel member ‘disappointed’

Former IAS officer and member of the P.A. Azeez Committee on downsizing the lake S. Ashok Kumar said he was “thoroughly disappointed” with the decision to denotify land from within the sanctuary.

He said all the efforts made by the expert committee to highlight the importance of the lake had gone waste. He said the governments should give priority to environment. Raman Sukumar, who was an expert on wild elephants, might not have been the right person to head the second expert committee, he felt.

‘Conditions ignored’

The environmentalist who had filed a PIL in the Supreme Court for the protection of the Kolleru Lake, T. Patanjali Sastry, said the government had conveniently gone for denotification without fulfilling the conditions laid down by the Sukumar Committee.

The committee had very clearly said that denotification should be done only after a thorough verification of the Zeroyiti and D-patta claims. He also recommended the marking of the current boundaries of the sanctuary, preferably with a fence.

This was to prevent encroachment of the areas around the denotified lands.

Prof. Sukumar also recommended creation of an authority constituted with both State and Central officials to protect and develop the site. The State government did not bother to implement any of these recommendations, Mr. Sastry pointed out.

Former honorary wildlife warden and expert on waterfowls K. Mruthyumjaya Rao said Kolleru Lake was a Ramsar site, a wildlife sanctuary, a national wetland, and an Important Bird Area (IBA) identified by the Birdlife International. It was the responsibility of both the State and Centre to protect it, he said. Denotification of land within the sanctuary would only make it more vulnerable, he added.

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Printable version | Jun 7, 2020 12:06:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/environmentalists-up-in-arms-against-kolleru-denotification/article24176064.ece

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