KENDRAPARA: The district administration has demolished around 175 acres of illegal prawn farms at seaside villages of Batighar, Hetamundai and Sanatubi under Mahakalapada forest range in Bhitarkanika National Park recently.All the dismantled shrimp farms are illegal as the prawn gherries violate the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and the rulings of the Supreme Court and the High Court, said Forest Range Officer Bijay Kumar Parida. “We have demolished around 175 acres of illegal shrimp farms over the forest land within three days in the presence of the police.
About 500 more acres of shrimp farms in the area will be demolished within a week and mangrove trees will be raised over the demolished prawn farms to prevent mafias from converting the forest land into prawn farms,” he said.Three months back, the forest officials had demolished around 100 acres of prawn farms in Bagapatia and Gupti villages. Farmers cultivating shrimp without registering with the Coastal Aquaculture Authority (CAA) are liable to be imprisoned for three years with a fine of up to `one lakh. It was mandatory for all shrimp farms to be registered under the provisions of Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act and Rules, 2005. The Act requires registration of all shrimp farms lying on either side of rivers, creeks and canals up to a distance of 5 km from high tide level. Shrimp farms not registered were liable for demolition, the forest officer added.
Two years back, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had declared 192 villages around the park as Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) to prevent ecological damage caused due to developmental activities. ESZ prohibits any shrimp farming within 2 km from Bhitarkanika, he said.