Shrimp farm threat
Bhubaneswar: Shrimp culture in small ponds close to the Chilika lake are adversely affecting the lagoon's ecosystem.
These ponds discharge untreated pollutants used for shrimp culture into the lake. Though these have existed around the lake for years, the district administrations of Puri, Ganjam and Khurda have turned a blind eye to this.
The owners of these ponds use electricity to pump the lake's brackish water into the ponds for farming prawns. A huge amount of chemicals, including hormones and antibiotics, are mixed in the water that is later directly discharged back into the Chilika lake.
According to the Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act, ecologically fragile areas such as the Chilika the coastal area is extended up to a distance of 2km from the boundary of the lake and it is illegal to set up prawn hatcheries. However, violations are rampant. The pond owners earn in crores.
"Waste water generated at the shrimp farms pollute the lake water. It also affects the salinity of the lake. Besides, people living around the farms are exposed to the chemicals and antibiotics used in those firms. The hatcheries pose threat to the ecology of the lake," said environmentalist Bijay Mishra.
In January, the state government had asked the district collectors of Puri, Khurda and Ganjam to identify the illegal shrimp farms within the prohibited area after a directive from Orissa High Court.
Acting on the directive, the state forest and environment department this month have asked the power distribution company to disconnect power from 20 unauthorised farms near the lake.
Additional chief executive of Chilika Development Authority Sasmita Lenka said they were working along with district administration to identify unauthorised prawn firms.