ANDHRA PRADESH

Kolleru under threat

G. Nagaraja

ELURU: The fragile eco-system in and around the Kolleru Lake, which is home to vast flora and fauna, is once again under threat as the ruling Congress and the opposition Telugu Desam Party have begun another round of political one-upmanship.

As the general elections are fast approaching, both of them are going overboard to woo the fishermen, who felt the heat of the Government-sponsored ‘Operation Kolleru’ programme of removing all encroachments in and around the lake. They are promising to tailor the lake to their needs.

Court order ignored

Against this backdrop, the fishermen’s demand for pruning the area of Kolleru wildlife sanctuary from the 5th contour to 3rd contour and thus exclude 35,000 acres from the sanctuary, has shot into the limelight.

In their anxiety to garner the fishermen’s votes, the TDP and the Congress are conveniently ignoring the Supreme Court’s direction to the government to implement in letter and spirit GO 120 for development of Kolleru as a wildlife sanctuary. The Kolleru Lake area has over one lakh voters falling under six Assembly constituencies, five in West Godavari and one in Krishna district.

The latest round of controversy has been triggered by TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu, who sought to champion the fishermen’s cause by promising to amend GO 120 in order to reduce the sanctuary area. Mr. Naidu made a night halt in the heart of Kolleru and spent the whole of next day going round almost every habitation.

In their attempt not to lag behind in the race, Ministers and Congress MLAs and Eluru MP K. S. Rao brought pressure on Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy to convene a meeting with the officials in Hyderabad on Monday. After the meeting, the government came out with sops for fishermen as well as farmers. Mr. Rao even claimed that the government had decided to appeal to the National Board for Wildlife to reduce the area of the wildlife sanctuary by 21,000 acres.