District in India’s Gujarat mulls crackdown on illegal shrimp farms
Officials in Surat district of the Indian western state of Gujarat will carry out a survey to identify shrimp farms believed to be illegally built in areas owned by the government near the Tena and Sena creeks in Olpad Taluka, The Times of India reported 20 September.
The move is in response to a recent order issued by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), a government body created in 2010 to handle cases relating to environmental issues. The tribunal had received a petition from Brackish-Water Research Centre (BWRC), which requested elimination of illegal shrimp farms and other illegal construction in critically vulnerable coastal areas in the region.
According to the BWRC, two local creeks and their surrounding areas have been damaged by the creation of the illegal shrimp farms. Mangroves have been cut in a large area and land-levelling work has been performed to construct the farms.
On 24 August, the NGT ordered Gujarat’s Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Forests, Gujarat’s Irrigation Department, the Gujarat Pollution Control Board, the state fisheries commissioner, and the Surat collector to complete a joint investigation and file a comprehensive report on the issue within six weeks.
“Every year during the monsoon season, the low-lying villages of Olpad and Hansot get flooded due to heavy rains. This is mainly because the illegal shrimp farms have been constructed to stop the flow of water from the creeks. This results in the floods in the villages,” BWRC President MHS Shaikh told the newspaper.
Shaikh estimated there are more than 1,000 illegal shrimp farms on the government land in Olpad.
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