CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the State government over allegations of large-scale Olive Ridley turtle deaths along the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary.While registering a PIL suo motu, the High Court issued notices to the Collector of Kendrapara district and Secretary of Forest and Environment department. The Registrar (Judicial) suo motu registered the PIL on the basis of a media report on the large number of Olive Ridleys’ death since January.
According to the report, 800 turtles have died along the Odisha coast since January 2021. This was evident from the carcasses washed ashore, on the beaches stretching 30 km along the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary and nearby areas from Silali to Nasi beach.The bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice BP Routray fixed Friday for hearing on the PIL along with the responses to the notices. The bench has also appointed advocate Mohit Agarwal as Amicus Curiae to assist the court in the matter.
The PIL assumes significance as Gahirmatha is the world’s largest rookery of the endangered sea turtles. The rookery at Gahirmatha was declared a marine sanctuary in 1997 by the State government. It imposed a ban order on fishing activities inside the sanctuary, around 20 km off the shore from November 1, 2020 to May 31, 2021
The fishing trawlers are supposed to fish beyond 20 km from the coast in Gahirmatha marine sanctuary, according to the Odisha Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1982. But, they fish near the shore in violation of the law. As a result, turtles die after getting trapped in fishing nets or hit by trawlers.The carcasses of turtles are also driving away tourists from the Siali, Satabhaya, Pentha and Paradip beaches in Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur districts due to the stench, much to the resentment of local shopkeepers and hotel owners.