CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Monday set December 10 as deadline for the State Government to file an affidavit indicating the steps taken so far to ensure protection of Chilika Lake and Bhitarkanika National Park.
The division bench of Chief Justice K S Jhaveri and Justice K R Mohapatra was taking stock of the progress made by the high-level committee constituted on its order issued on January 21 in this regard. The bench set the deadline after it found that no report had been filed.
The bench expected an update on implementation of the recommendations of Amicus Curiae Mohit Agarwal as directed on January 21. The court was concerned about the progress in demolition and eviction of illegal prawn farms. The Amicus Curiae in a report had pointed out that the data supplied by the Government indicated that “there has been massive increase in the area of illegal prawn culture farms right when the matter is going on in the court”.
In his report, Agarwal had stated that “the orders of High Court are being flouted by the district administrations of Puri, Khurda, Ganjam and Kendrapara” and the orders have “till date not been complied with”.
The Collectors of four districts are yet to chalk out action plan for eviction of illegal prawn farms and take photos and video images of the eviction process and submit to the Committee. They have not initiated steps for registration of criminal cases as per the provisions of Coastal Aquaculture Act, the Amicus Curiae had further stated in his report.
The Supreme Court had issued a direction on April 3, 2017 to the Chief Justice of High Courts in 15 States to take up the issue of conservation of ecology of important wetlands. In pursuance of it, the High Court had taken up the issue by suo motu registering a PIL in September 2017 for restoration of the ecology of the two wetlands.Chilika and Bhitarkanika in Odisha are among the 26 major wetlands in the country.