Illegal fishing in Totladoh dam comes to an end

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 02 Dec 2017 09:53:09

Staff Reporter,

FOREST Department had a tough fight on hand to stop the illegal fishing scandal carried out in Totladoh reservoir in Maharashtra part since past many years. They used to face different odds as well attacks by the fishermen. Finally, the Pench Tiger Reserve officials and field staff have managed to put a stop to the activities. SS Bhagwat, Assistant Conservator of Forest, Pench, claimed that the department had taken various measures, including strengthening of monitoring by patrol boats in the reservoir day and night. The alertness of the staff members and Special tiger Protection Force jawans has now paid off.The staff destroyed the camps of the fishermen by the side of reservoir in the core area of Pench Tiger Reserve. Ithas resulted in bringing back the fauna and birds to the reservoir, said Bhagwat while talking to newspersons during a tour to the reservoir, Gol Tekdi and other areas on Friday.

Bhagwat narrated the tale of Totladoh’s illegal fishing which was shocking to be believed at once.But the claims never missed any evidence. The officials and field staff members were attacked many times by fishermen with petrol bombs and dynamites.They were hit hard by stones, threatened, abused and even harassed.

They were well equipped with guns and safety weapons but were still helpless touse them to save their own lives. “Little did they know that the duty they were fulfilling with their heart and soul to keep mother nature and the vast wildlife in a fine fettle state will lead them towards the life threat,” Bhagwat said. Getting to know about sufferings ofthe patrolling staff and the officials from Forest Department raised a big question into the minds of people. “Undeserved sympathy was all that the fishermen gained,” he added. Practising illegal fishing and hampering the ecosystem just in the name of poverty was nowhere a right choice. The fishing scandal was too big to be exposed. The scandal that was carried out since years had an approximate turn-over of Rs 12 crore.

But the profit makers were too self-centred to give a thought to the disastrous imbalance causedtoeco-system due to their illegal act. The activity was carriedoutroundtheclockthroughout the year and more than 1200 fishermen were involved in the scandal. “Due to their constant presence inthe core area of forestthe wildlife was largely disturbed. Fishermen were even found poaching tigers and herbivores. Their fishing nets killed a number of species; eventually they became the ‘owners’ of the land whichwasnevermeantforthem,” Bhagwat further said. The fight against this activity was going on years together.

Thedepartmentthenrevisedthestrategiesand cameupwithmoreeffectiveplans and execution, like increasing the numberofpatrollingboats,decentralisation of powers among officers,accommodationtopatrolling staffinactivityproneareasetc.The forestmen destroyed boats and nets of the fishermen.This resulted in protecting and conserving wildanimalsandbirdsaswelltheir habitat. Now, the tigers, deer, sambar andotheranimalsarebeingsighted in the core area around this water body. The unique species of birds including Black-headed oriole, Roller, Grey-headed fish eagle, Grey-headed lapwing etc are now seen soaring around the habitat adding to its beauty. Thefishermeninvolvedinillegal activities were given permission to undertake fishing atlower Pench water body abiding by the laws and rules of the department in order to maintain a healthy eco-system.

However, they refused this proposal. The measures were taken under the guidance of Rishikesh Ranjan, Chief Conservator of Forest and Field Director, Pench Tiger Reserve. Atul Deokar, Range Forest Officer,Pench(East)madeabrief presentation on the issue.