14 arrested for fishing in Orissa’s Chilika Lake

Bhubaneswar, Nov 27 (Inditop.com) At least 14 people have been arrested for fishing in a prohibited area of Orissa’s Chilika lake, India’s largest brackish water lagoon that hosts hundreds of thousands of birds.

The 14 were arrested Thursday for fishing in the Nalabana area, the bird sanctuary inside the lagoon, assistant conservator of forest (wildlife) B.K. Mohapatra told Inditop.

“Three boats and nets they used in the fishing have also been seized. With this, the number of people arrested for fishing in the prohibited area of the lake during the last two months has risen to 50,” he said.

The 1,000-sq km lake, about 100 km from here, is spread over the districts of Puri, Khordha and Ganjam along the eastern coast and is home to some of the largest congregations of migratory birds in the country.

An estimated 165 species of birds are found in Chilika during winters. Of these, 93 species are migratory and 72 residential. About 500,000-600,000 migratory birds visit the lake every winter.

“At least 450,000 birds have thronged the lake this winter. Of these, about 250,000 were sighted in the Nalabana bird sanctuary,” Mohapatra said.

Fishing is prohibited in a 15.53 km area of the lake round the year. We have set up about 18 camps and deployed hundreds of personnel to protect the birds, he said.

Migratory birds come from as far as Yakut in Siberia. Species like the pintail duck come from the Caspian region of Siberia, the red-crested pochard duck comes from Lake Baikal, the common teal from Aast in the Kirghiz steppe and the blue-winged teal from the Kiev region of Ukraine.

About 900,000 birds from 168 species were counted in the lake last year and wildlife officials say they are hopeful a similar number will visit this year.