The media was largely dismissive of the opposition to the Bhimavaram aqua food park coming up near village Tundurru till yesterday. As is the norm with the local media, it woke up only yesterday after the issue got some Tollywood glamour once Pawan Kalyan raised the issue and declared his support to the agitating local fishermen.
But what exactly is the issue here ? Is the park really a polluting disaster as the local populace tend to believe ? And are there vested interests doing the bidding of the local government and its leaders ? Let us try to separate the fact from the fiction.
- The concept behind the park is simple. Aqua exports from AP can grow multifold if value addition for marine and fishery products can be achieved. It is a noble intention that no one can question.
- But the food park would produce wastes while processing and preserving prawn and fish in the ammonium gas chambers and that would pose a serious threat to the safety of aqua in the drain, humans in the adjacent villages while also polluting drinking water sources.
- Local folks are particularly apprehensive with the experience of Yanamadurru drain, (which is also in the WG district and not very far from where this food park is coming up )which was subjected to contamination in view of wastes let out from sugar factories upstream. They recall that hundreds of fishermen who used to live on fishing in the drain were deprived of livelihood because of pollution.
So the core issue here is the deep distrust people have about industries. The pollution control norms of industries are dismal and they get away with environmental murder by bribing local authorities who look the other side while industries release hazardous waste recklessly in to near by water bodies. This is the norm all over India and in all states.
The state government today has tried to assure people that they will ask the company to build pipelines to carry and dump waste into sea directly. The proposal makes sense. Tundurru village is very close to sea and pipelines need to be laid for only about 30 kms at best. ( See the map below).
But it very surprising that the government makes the proposal only today, in less than 24 hours after Pawan Kalyan raises it though the issue has been simmering for more than 2 years. What was the government, the local politicians and officials doing so far? They were happy treating it as a law and order issue and use excess police force. Very sad !!
Even today, the state government should understand that laying pipelines is only a very simplistic solution and real dangers remain. Many countries around the world who have a head start in aquaculture, have faced issues and have brought in stringent laws. Andhra does not have one so far. For example
- Australia, Fisheries Management (General) Regulation (1995);
- Mozambique, Decree No 35/2001 – General Aquaculture Regulation (2001);
- Norway, The Aquaculture Act 1985 (2003).
- China, Fisheries Law of the People’s Republic of China (1986);
- Philippines, the Philippine Fisheries Code Act (1998).
- Portugal, Decree-Law No. 74/90, (1990). 4 Brazil, Act No.8.17 (1991); Brazil, Order No. N-1 (1977)
The goal of environmental management is to minimize, prevent, or mitigate adverse environmental effects of human activitie. The following determine whether environmental management is effective: (1) the possible adverse environmental impacts of human activities must be identified; (2) standards must be formulated to specify changes in variables that are permissible without causing unacceptable environmental effects; and (3) technology-based management practices must be available to prevent excessive changes in environmental variables.
Telugu Desam government would be playing with fire in a district which has given it 100% assembly seats if it goes carelessly on the entire issue. CM would be advised to personally monitor the situation here. He should not leave it to local MLAs, MPs and officials. Their knowledge and caliber on such sensitive issues laced with prospects of environmental damage is next to ZERO. No wonder, the local fishermen don’t trust their leaders.