Orissa Assembly Speaker Maheswar Mohanty has directed the state government to initiate appropriate steps immediately to stop poaching of migratory birds in Chilka lake, Asia’s biggest brackish water lake and a major winter home in the country for avian guests across the globe.
“The killing of innocent birds must come to an end and the state government should take more stringent action to stop the poaching”, Mr Mohanty said. The Speaker was reacting to concern expressed by legislators over large-scale killing of rare and endangered migratory birds in the Orissa lake.
Members alleged that the birds were being supplied to hotels and restaurants in different towns and cities within and outside the state. “According to reports even ambulances are being used to smuggle the poached birds to different towns clandestinely”, said BJD legislator, Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak.
Responding to the members’ concern, the Parliamentary affairs minister, Padmanav Behera said that on December 15, forest staff and officials manning the lake had managed to nab two poachers and seized as many as 57 rare dead migratory birds from their possession.
Quoting official reports, the minister said 25 poaching cases had come to the notice of the forest department in 2003-04 of which only seven cases had been cracked and 17 people were arrested. Similarly, during 2004-05, nine cases have been reported from the lake so far. Seven people have been arrested and sent to the judicial custody in seven of these cases. “The rest two cases are still being investigated by the forest department officials and the police”, Mr Behera said.
Referring to the action initiated by the government to end poaching in the lake, the minister who was making the statement on behalf of chief minister Naveen Patnaik who heads the forest department said one section of armed police had been deployed at Sorana near the lake to assist the forest department officials.
Besides, seven patrolling camps and a 24 hour control room had been opened near the lake to keep a watch on the bird hunters.