Administration takes serious view of fishponds in Kolleru Wildlife Sanctuary

The West Godavari district administration finds itself in a tight spot over re-emergence of fishponds in the plus five contours of the Kolleru Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS), negating the very objective of the operation Kolleru programme undertaken by the State government in 2006 in line with a court direction.

Collector G. Vanimohan on Tuesday cracked the whip on the field-level official machinery reportedly found guilty of laxity in executing the court orders. She suspended a Revenue Inspector M. Subramanyeswara Rao and a couple of Village Revenue Officers—VVV Prasad and G. Durga Rao—in Nadamarru mandal, holding them responsible for revival of fishponds in the sanctuary area falling under their jurisdiction. Charge memos were also served on Krishnamurthy, Deputy Director of the Fisheries department and Nidamarru Tahsildar A. Gandhi for their alleged supervisory lapses.

The Collector’s action came in the wake of cases filed by the Forest Department (Wildlife Division) against four persons under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1971 while allegedly attempting to revive the fishponds in the zeraiti (private) lands by engaging a large number of workers and earthmovers at Nidamarru. According to official sources from the Forest department, Kollepalli Vijayarama Raju of Bhimavaram was booked while reviving ponds in an extent of 29 acres. Jampana Subramanya Varma of Sidhapuram was implicated in a similar case on the charge of rebuilding a pond in 70 acres. Manchineeti Satyanarayana alias Annavaram and Naidu Giridhar of Nidamarru village were also allegedly found `guilty’ of using their zeraiti lands in an extent of seven acres each for aquaculture.

An anonymous complaint made to the Vigilance wing of the Forest department on revival of fishponds in the sanctuary near Pothunuru village `in active collusion with the officials of the Forest department’ caused flutters in the official circles. The complainant is learnt to have even mentioned three names of encroachers in his complaint who were allegedly digging fishponds in an extent of 600 acres. Interestingly, a rare bird, Grey Lag Goose, was recently sighted and documented by a bird watcher Premji at the same location for the first time in South India.

Meanwhile, the sanctuary area has been witnessing skirmishes between the Forest department and the zeraiti farmers over revival of fishponds in their lands since the operation Kolleru programme in the face of the reported non-compliance of the High Court directives and the recommendations of the S.A. Azeez Committee by the government for payment of compensation and rehabilitation package for the losers.

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