Kendrapara: The police have registered criminal cases against 141 persons for allegedly encroaching upon protected forest land by erecting prawn dykes at the internationally acclaimed Bhitarkanika wetland site in Kendrapara district.
The cases have been registered against the encroachers in the last 15 days, the police said. On the Orissa High Court’s directions, the revenue, forest, and police departments in a joint operation have undertaken the demolition of the earthen prawn dykes that have unlawfully come up along the wetland site.
After the areas are cleared, authorities have decided to take up a mangroves regeneration programme on those denuded patches, an official said. “We have registered cases against 141 persons in this connection on the complaint lodged by Kendrapara Sub-Collector.
Criminal cases have been registered under the relevant section of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984,” Inspector Rajnagar police station, Tapan Kumar Nayak, said.
The Orissa High Court, May 30, ordered the authorities to demolish all illegal prawn gherries at the eco-sensitive wetland areas of Chilika and Bhitarkanika.
The court also directed the authorities to destroy the materials and machinery seized from the prawn farm owners apart from filing criminal cases against the squatters.
The directive came after hearing into a case registered suo motu by the court based on the Supreme Court’s order regarding the protection of wetlands.
“Acting on the order of the High Court, we filed FIRs against the illegal prawn farm owners,” Sub-Collector of Kendrapara, Niranjan Behera, said.