The Orissa High Court on Tuesday adjourned the hearing on the PIL on the operation of diesel-operated motorised fishing boats in the Mangalajodi region of Chilika Lake, setting November 6 as the deadline for the petitioner to file a reply to the state government’s affidavit against use of solar/battery-operated boats.

Debakar Behera, a resident of the area, had filed the PIL for the imposition of a ban on the movement of motorised fishing boats in the Mangalajodi part of the lake which attracts lakhs of migratory birds every year.

The case was listed before the division bench of Chief Justice Subhasis Talapatra and Justice MS Sahoo, which adjourned the hearing after petitioner counsel Ashis Kumar Mishra sought time to file a rejoinder to the state government’s affidavit.

In the affidavit, joint director Fisheries (coastal) Sashikanta Acharya said fishermen and other stakeholders are not willing to shift from diesel-operated motorised fishing boats to solar/battery-operated ones. Besides, the use of solar or battery-operated boats for fishing will not be economically viable on the part of the poor fishermen.

“Two hundred diesel-operated motorized boats are operating in Mangalajodi. The cost of solar/battery operated engines excluding the cost of installation of grid for charging and maintenance is high and amounts to approximately Rs 30 crore,” Acharya stated in the affidavit.

The registered authorised fishing boats operating in Mangalajodi may be allowed for the sustenance and livelihood of the local fishermen and for development of fish production in Odisha, he submitted.

Acharya said there is no established model for solar/battery-operated engine in India. The two models recommended would approximately cost Rs 15 lakh and Rs 11.25 lakh respectively towards procurement of batteries and motor. Besides additional charges for establishing a grid for charging would cost Rs 15 lakh and Rs 10.5 lakh respectively.