India's 2nd largest lake under threat

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Chennai, Dec 26: Pulicat lake, the second largest lake in the country, which extends to an area of 600 sq km has been reduced to an area of 400 sq km in the last couple of decades, leading to reduction in the aquatic fauna and migration of birds to the lake.

''Apart from the reduction of aquatic population, the depth of the lake used to be four metres, but now it is just two metres,'' Andhra Pradesh government DFO, Sullurpet division Ramalingam told newspersons here today.

The arrival of terrestrial birds like Flamingos, Painted storks, Egrets, Grey Pelicans, Grey herons especially during the winter season, has drastically reduced due to less water in the lake.

''During 2002 the arrival of Flamingos was about 30,000 but last year it was only 7,000,'' he revealed, adding ''on an average, the arrival of migratory birds has also been reduced to 50 per cent''.

''Silting is the main reason for the reduction of both aquatic population and migration of birds'', he said.

Mr Ramalingam also pointed out that fishermen were using nets with the holes 2 mm in width. This also affects the aquatic population.

However, the official ruled out any encroachments along the lake area. ''Goverment has taken several steps to remove encroachments along the lake area,'' he said adding that recently the government has cancelled the allotted pattas for 800 acre''.

The official said steps would be taken to press the Centre to declare pulicat area as 'Ramsar' site, which connotes protection of a wetland. It was at Ramsar in Iran that an international convention on protection of wetland was held.

''We would be writing to the Centre regarding this,'' he said.


UNI

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