The Orissa High Court on Monday set a fresh 15-day deadline for the state government to present before the court the final policy for fishing in Chilika lake.The court was hearing petitions filed by several primary fishing cooperative societies (PFCS’) for permitting them to continue fishing activities in Chilika.

The PFCS’ had sought the court’s intervention pointing out that the state government had on June 18, 1999 taken a policy decision that no lease shall be granted or renewed within the lake area for fishing activity for the time being either in favour of any PFCS or group societies of non-fishermen. Consequently, there has since been no valid Chilika Sairat which has been recognised by the competent authority for fishing activities.

Besides, the emphasis has been entirely on removal of illegal prawn gherries and culture farms with no attention being paid to the protection of the livelihood of non-traditional fishermen communities, the societies contended. On September 14, the court had directed the state government to submit the finalised policy by November 30. The division bench of Acting Chief Justice BR Sarangi and Justice MS Raman allowed 15 days after the government sought more time on Monday. The bench fixed December 18 as the next date for further consideration of the matter. Earlier, in pursuance of the court’s direction the Chilika Development Authority (CDA) had formulated a draft fishing policy for traditional fishermen and non-fishermen and sent it to the state government for finalisation. In its order, the court had made it clear that the policy should primarily focus on the fishing activities responsibly and sustainably considering the long-term history of people in and around Chilika.