Huge stocks of coral illegally mined by fishermen: Govt
New Delhi, May 15 (UNI) The Government today admitted in the Lok Sabha that local fishermen in Tamil Nadu have illegally been carrying out the quarrying of coral in the coastal areas of Gulf of Mannar.
Minister of State for Environment and Forests Namo Narain Meena, in a written reply, said these coral reefs which were damaged during the fishing and other activities were collected illegally and used in the limestone industry.
Mr Meena said the steps taken by the Central Government to prevent the degradation of corals consists of all Reef building corals, Black corals, Organ pipe coral, Fire Corals and Sea Fans.
He said Gulf of Mannar is among the four national Coral Reef Areas identified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests for intensive conservation and management. The Government also gives financial assistance for their protection. Gulf of Mannar National Park was notified in 1986 for strengthening conservation efforts.
Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve was notified in 1989.
Mr Meena further informed that the High Court of Tamil Nadu through its order dated March 29/05 had permitted industry to purchase dead corals being washed ashore. However, Tamil Nadu Forest Department effected a stay of this order.
All efforts are being made for protection of the coral reefs in the entire area of the Gulf of Mannar.
Responding to another question, Mr Meena said a total of 92 Zoos, spread over 18 States, have already been closed down and denied reports that there are some more zoos in the country which are on the verge of closure.
He said Uttar Pradesh with 19 closed zoos topped the list among the states. This is followed by Madhya Pradesh with 14 zoos and Bihar with 12 zoos.
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