The Financial Express

Keeping Halda river off-limit to pillagers

Published: May 13, 2020 21:32:41 | Updated: May 16, 2020 21:02:59

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For years Halda river has been making news for all the wrong reasons. Illegal fishing and collection of eggs during the spawning season along with increasing pollution of the river's water by industrial effluence threaten the country's only natural breeding water body of carp variety fish. With the passage of time, stopping unwanted interferences into and disturbances of the natural breeding ground during the spawning season between April and June have proved a daunting challenge. All because of people's lack of awareness of the environment as also the greed of a section of them. This year should have been different because of the countrywide lockdown and closure of factories and industries. Undisturbed, mother carps and even the rare dolphin species found there were supposed to come there swimming in greater numbers. That is not to be, because the isolation period has presented before the illegal fish catchers an opportunity to fish the mother carps. Even the administration's raids, according to a report carried in this newspaper on Tuesday, have failed to deter them.

So crafty are these fish thieves that they look for opportune moments such as nighttime heavy rains -no matter if accompanied with thunderstorm -- to get into the evil business. In fact on such a night, a group of 30 catchers fled the scene leaving behind 500 metres of net when the local administration conducted a raid. Every year, the authorities officially announce the peak collection time -usually a couple of days -when seasoned egg collectors can collect eggs under an approved system. These eggs meet the demand for carp hatchlings of the entire country. But the illegal catchers kill mother fish bringing an end to millions of potential broods. They are enemies of not only fish but also of the environment and by extension the nation.

These illegal fish catchers also pose a threat to the rare type of doiphins found there. The nets they set in the Halda river enmesh the sprightly dolphins and the brutes feel no compunction for killing those. Taking cognizance of a writ petition filed by a Supreme Court lawyer, the High Court on Tuesday issued a directive for protection of the dophins there. The HC also gave 72-hour time to inform what measures the authorities have taken to save the dolphins. This directive will prove highly crucial because without closer vigilance, these highly intelligent sea or river animals cannot be saved. And effective vigilance is key to keeping the fish thieves at bay.

At a time when the environment has recorded some discernible improvement, the Halda river should have proved to be safe sanctuary for the breeding fish. Swarms of mother fish would have deposited their eggs this time to ensure that the river recovered the lost ground over the years for rapacious exploitation of its precious resources. Worldwide shutdown of factories, industries, transports and confinement of people to homes have given a breathing space for recuperation of Nature's sources. The Halda should be allowed the respite for its recuperation as well. It should be left alone in the future in the greater interest of the nation.

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