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Marine police stations in Odisha operating with skeletal manpower

Last year, 3,49,694 female turtles had turned up at the Gahirmatha nesting ground to lay eggs from 9 March to 23 March.

Statesman News Service | BHUBANESWAR |

The Orissa High Court-appointed Amicus Curiae overseeing the Olive Ridley turtle conservation measures in Gahirmatha marine sanctuary, Rushikulya and Devi river mouth areas has taken strong exception large backlog of vacancies in Odisha marine police stations, saying that “it is appalling as to how the marine police Stations are functioning without proper staff.

The High Court in a direction on 15 March 2021 had directed the government agencies including the marine police to strictly enforce the fishing ban and restriction of trawlers within the prohibited areas.

The staff who are present do not respond to the call of duty as and when it arises. This gives a free hand to the trawlers to violate the law and enter the prohibited zone without any fear or restriction, Amicus Curiae Mohit Agarwal stated in a report submitted to the High Court.

Agarwal in his fact-finding report urged the High Court to issue directions to the Additional Director General of Police (Railways and Coastal Security) to indicate the sanctioned strength and vacancy position of the police officials at all the Marine Police Stations in Odisha and the steps taken for filling up the vacant posts.

The experts’ committee constituted by Orissa High Court in March 2021 to ensure the safety of endangered Olive ridley sea turtles has suggested the tracking of fishing trawlers on a real-time basis, saying that trawling poses threat to turtles, contributes towards the mortality of marine animals.

The mortality of the olive ridleys along the Odisha coast is attributed mainly due to the trawling operations in the sea as incidental killing due to suffocation in fishing nets of trawlers or by injury inflicted by the propellers of the trawler, the experts’ panel had earlier stated in its report.

The Olive turtles turn up in millions for mass nesting along the Odisha coast every year. Gahirmatha beach off Bay of Bengal coast in Kendrapara district is incidentally acclaimed as World’s largest-known nesting ground of these animals. Apart from Gahirmatha, these threatened aquatic animals turn up at Rushikulya river mouth and Devi river mouth for mass nesting, otherwise called arribada.

Last year, 3,49,694 female turtles had turned up at the Gahirmatha nesting ground to lay eggs from 9 March to 23 March.