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Residents in the Atapaka bird sanctuary have alleged that the negligence of Forest Department authorities has contributed to mortality of fish of worth crores of rupees in Kolleru Lake. Fish weighing around four tonnes have died due to low dissolved oxygen in Kolleru water and an equal quantity of fish was stolen by the neighbouring villagers of Krishna and West Godavari districts.
Unable to prevent fish mortality and pollution of the lake, Wildlife Management officials permitted the Self Help Group (SHG) women and Environment Development Committee (EDC) members to catch fish in the sanctuary for three days from May 5.
Deputy Director of Fisheries, Krishna district, P. Jaya Rao said that the high mortality of fish occurred due to decreased water levels and low dissolved oxygen levels in Kolleru.
“Though the locals have been alerting the forest staff over the decreasing water levels from December, no measures have been taken for maintaining the water levels to ensure survival of the fish which are prey for migratory birds. In 2012, the lake huge quantities of fish were killed for similar reasons. But the officials, in a planned manner, have not taken preventive measures,” said Sita Mahalakshmi, a local resident.
“Fish worth some crores of rupees has been stolen away . Some forest staff, in connivance with the local heads, had given permission to catch fish. The government should order an inquiry into the issue,” a local Sambaiah demanded.
When contacted, Atapaka Forest Range Officer (FRO) L. Dhana Raju said that water samples were collected from Kolleru in March and sent to Government Referral Laboratory for Fish and Prawn at Kaikalur to check the oxygen levels.
“Alarmed over the decreasing oxygen levels, we also wrote a letter to the Wildlife Management authorities in Hyderabad. But, there has been no response. We lifted water from Polamraju drain but could not maintain sufficient water in the sanctuary, as a consequence, a huge quantity of fish perished,” the FRO clarified.
It may be noted that the government had suspended a DFO and a couple of officers from the department on charges of corruption and for allegedly colluding with the local fish traders, who raised tanks in the lake in violation of norms.
From: The Hindu