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Public hearing on Kolleru one-sided

G. Nagaraja

Pro-sanctuary groups stay away from the process fearing numerically strong fisher folks


Majority favour reduction in the sanctuary area to plus third contour

Congress, TDP and CPI (M) extend support to fishermen


— Photo: A. V. G. Prasad

Making a point:Women holding placards highlight their demand for reducing the Kolleru sanctuary at a public hearing at Gudivakalanka in West Godavari district on Tuesday.

GUDIVAKALANKA (WEST GODAVARI DIST): As expected, the public hearing by the Committee for Conservation of Kolleru Lake Sanctuary (CKLS) on the first day of its field visit to Kolleru villages on Tuesday was one-sided with a majority favouring reduction in the sanctuary area from the present plus fifth contour to the plus third contour. Pro-sanctuary groups stayed away from the process fearing the numerically strong fisher folks.

The ‘study' by the CKLS on the controversial proposal to reduce the sanctuary area took off with the inhabitants at this habitation in the heart of Kolleru and later at another village, Agadalanka. Caste elders of the Vaddi community who hold sway over fishermen demonstrated, their clout by mobilising crowds in large numbers by engaging trucks .

Local cable operators were reportedly asked to suspend all cable operations during the timing of hearing so that womenfolk attended the hearing All the `banta' maistries who controlled the fisher folks engaged in agricultural operations were told to keep them off work for the day. The support from the Congress, the TDP and the CPI (M) gave an added strength to the fishermen in pressing for their demand.

Environmentalist flayed

Environmentalists, pro-sanctuary activists and peasant outfits fighting against the reduction of the sanctuary area drew flak from the leaders at the hearing. Sydu Satyanarayana, a leader from the fishermen community, and M. Sitaram of the CPI (M) called said pro-sanctuary were not aware of the ground realities.

Ghantasala Mahalkshmi Raju, another Vaddi leader, said a chunk of 32000 out of the total extent of 77,000 acres was enough for sanctuary development.

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