Kendrapara (Odisha), Mar 28 (PTI) The Kendrapara district administration has demolished illegal prawn enclosures and reclaimed nearly two acres of encroached government land on the fringe of a swampy mangrove forest, an official said.

The patches were made encroachment-free and four illegal prawn ‘gheries'(enclosures), each measuring half-an- acre, were demolished yesterday, an official said.

The dismantled plots had come up in coastal regulation zone (CRZ) patches, Rajnagar Tehsildar Nihar Ranjan Mallick said.

“The reclaimed patches would be taken up for mangrove regeneration programme so that prawn farmers are not able to reoccupy these areas. The forest department has been asked to undertake plantation drive soon,” Mallick said.

The unlawful dykes were earlier identified in a joint survey by revenue, forest and police personnel.

The dyke builders were served notices to voluntarily dismantle the structures. As they failed to do so, the illegal structures were demolished, he said.

The reclaimed areas are conducive for mangrove regeneration as there is regular inflow of tidal waters, Mallick said.

By erecting artificial barriers in the form of dykes, the free-flow of natural creeks and water-inlets are reported to have been plugged, the tehsildar said.

As a result, the water-bodies subjected to encroachment are changing their directions and triggering erosion in various spots, he said.

These unauthorised prawn ‘gheries’ were

an obstacle to the unhindered flow of natural water-bodies and hazardous for aquatic animals, including freshwater fish, due to the rampant use of chemicals in the ‘gheries’, the tehsildar said.

In recent years, there has been a drop in fish yield due to such unauthorized activity, he said.

“The water pollution sourced from illegal fishing dykes has come to our notice. It is a matter of concern. We have asked the state pollution control board to inspect the sites,” officials said.

The Bhitarkanika river system owes connectivity to numerous creeks, water-inlets and nullahs before oceanic convergence.

So these water-bodies are marked by mixture of sweet and salinity content in water as there is frequent ingress of tidal waves into these water-inlets.

As a result, it proves conducive for shrimp farming resulting in the mushrooming of prawn ‘gheries’, he said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.