Nellore: The wildlife department has strongly opposed a proposal to denotify Pulicat Lake located close to Sullurpeta in SPSR Nellore district.
The department’s opinion was sought by the government recently following a representation by former Tirupati MP Dr Chinta Mohan along with the signatures of 30 MPs to denotify the lake.
Pulicat lake is the second largest and ecologically most important brackish water lagoon of India and it was declared a sanctuary in 1976.
About 75 per cent of the lagoon is in AP and 25 per cent in Tamil Nadu. The area of the lake varies with the tide; 450 square km (170 sq mi) in high tide and 250 square km (97 sq mi) in low tide.
Dr Chinta Mohan lobbied to denotify the lake because it had become a stumbling block to set up Dugarajapatnam Port as it was an Eco Sensitive Zone (ESZ). The ESZ of Pulicat sanctuary was earmarked by the AP Forest department with 10 km width and the land identified for the port was coming under the restricted area.
To overcome the problem, the ministry of environment and forests had brought down the restriction extent from mandatory 10 km to 2 km and sought the opinion of the wildlife officials.
In their reply to the government, wildlife officials mentioned that livelihood of 25,000 to 30,000 fishermen families in Andhra Pradesh and 20,000 families in Tamil Nadu will be hit if wildlife restrictions are lifted.
Recalling that the lake was winter home for flamingoes and the favourite feeding ground for thousands of migratory birds, the officials alleged that any move to relax the restrictions will drive away the birds.
“We mentioned that AP government alone can’t take any decision to denotify the lake without Tamil Nadu’s consent since 24 per cent of the lagoon is on their side. In addition to this, the opinion of habitants of 46 villages located in and around the lake is also necessary apart from district Collector of Nellore,” an official in the wildlife wing said.