Saving Chilka

TWENTY-ONE members of Parliament have petitioned the Prime Minister to save Chilka Lake, a major wetland in the country. They have protested against the state government giving advance possession of 400 ha of the lake to the Chilka. Aquatic Farm Ltd for prawn culture to new agri-business company of the Tatas. Environment minister Kamal Nath, to whom the matter was referred, has promised that a notification under the Environment Protection Act will be issued shortly to halt activities on the lake.

The company has already begun constructing a ring embankment, 15 km long, to create an artificial lake inside Chilka for prawn culture. This will render destitute about 25,000 fisherfolk.

Environmentalists say that if the project materialises, the lake's water will be polluted and the fragile eco-system destroyed. Also, the 95 species of migratory birds from Siberia, Tiber and the north Arctic shores, who make the shores of the lake their home in winter, will be scared away. Eventually, the highly-valued prawn and fish available in the lake will also disappear.

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