Rajahmundry: The National Board for Wildlife (NBW) has appointed a three-member committee to carry out a study and submit a report on the proposal to reduce the Kolleru sanctuary limits to plus three feet contour from the existing plus five feet contour limits.
The environmentalists demand preparation of the report keeping in mind the directions issued by the Supreme Court earlier on the same issue and caution that any violation of the directives will lead to contempt of court.
They are critical against the way the AP State Board for Wildlife was constituted on August 12 in a hurried manner with a la-te night meeting on August 13. It was a highly sensitive issue keeping all the stakeholders in the dark and sending a report to NBW asking it to reduce the sanctuary limits to pl-us three feet contour limits. Referring to the state government’s argument that it cannot compensate the villagers located in over 14,000 acres of private land, they suggested to the government to rope in philanthropists or corporates like the Tata Group to adopt some of villages, develop them and provide skill development to the local villagers to help th-em sustain on their own.
They wondered as to why the state government failed to implement the GO Ms No. 120 to protect the sanctuary and provide alternate sources of income to the affected villagers for so long, if the state government was so committed to provide welfare to the villagers.
They are opposing any move to downsize the Kolleru sanctuary by saying that if the government gives away a part of saved land to the local villagers, they in turn will lease out their lands at the rate of Rs 50,000 to Rs 75,000 per acre per annum to the pisciculturists who dig out new fish tanks and take up commercial culture of fish and shrimps.
As they use huge quantum of feed having high component of chemicals to for fish and shrimp the water in the tanks gets po-lluted and this will affect the Kolleru Lake, canals, drains and also ground water tables in long run.
They also flayed the government for failing to im-plement an action plan worth `800 crore prepared by an international agen-cy meant to safeguard the sanctuary, promote touri-sm and protect the interests of local villagers.
Noted environmentalist Dr T. Patanjali Sastri said, "The issue of downsizing Kolleru sanctuary is sub-judice and any move to do so leads to contempt of co-urt as my petition is pending in Supreme Court."
Rajahmundry Circle conservator of forests M. Ravi Kumar said, "No direction has been given to reduce Kolleru sanctuary limits so far."