Hyderabad: The Kolleru wildlife sanctuary has got temporary reprieve from the National Board for Wildlife. The board has appointed a working group to study the reduction of lake contour from +5 feet to +3 feet and submit a report on the same in two months.
The Kolleru lake, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the country, spreads over 901 sq km, of which 308 sq. km is under the sanctuary. After the reduction of contours it will decrease to a meagre 135 sq. km. The AP government’s contention is that the lake sanctuary has 14,861 acres of private land, which is the basis of livelihood for a large population. The government said it was “not in a position” to compensate the owners if they are evicted.
For this reason, the government wants the protected status to be removed for the 14,861 acres. Conservationists say the move to set up a new committee is redundant as an earlier expert committee appointed by the Supreme Court had submitted a report on the same issue in 2011.
S. Ashok Kumar, a retired IAS officer and one of the committee members who scripted the report, said, “We submitted the report running over 200 pages after surveying intensively every village which falls under the sanctuary's limits. We investigated the conservation as well as livelihood aspects and concluded that the contour level should not be reduced. One of the committee members is an expert in tribal issues and he suggested ways of resettlement and rehabilitation. What is the point of having another committee,” he asked.
He said, “The land which is being claimed as private land is part of the actual lake bed and was given away to people by successive governments. It gets covered when there is a large inflow of water. Otherwise it is exposed. If the sanctuary size is reduced, no matter what mechanisms are put in place for protection, over-fishing, modern aquaculture and pollution will leave the sanctuary damaged.”...
Location: Andhra Pradesh