Coastal villagers fume over aquaculture

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ONGOLE, JUNE 27,
The coastal village of Thetupuram, near Anantavaram in Prakasam district, was once flourishing with different types of crops year-round, thanks to the availability of potable water at a depth of 3 metres.
Now, villagers travel miles to procure a few pots of water, with aquaculture ponds mushrooming near the village in Tangutur mandal polluting sources and saltwater intrusion triggered by the tsunami in 2004.
“We have lost our livelihoods as the intrusion not only affects crops but also deprives us of safe drinking water,” says N.Narappa Reddy, pointing at the defunct reverse osmosis plant.
Drawing water from wells is of no avail as water in them is contaminated too, says P. Siva Reddy in a conversation with The Hindu.
“We have been fighting a lost battle against aqua farmers who have upset the ecological balance by excessively withdrawing groundwater leading to salinity,” adds R. Durga Reddy, urging authorities to stop aquaculture near their village.
Affecting health
Attributing ailments among villagers to the consumption of saline water, N. Venkaiah says, “Many of us suffer from nagging knee pain and kidney ailments from drinking the water over a period a time.”
Meanwhile, Groundwater Department Deputy Director explains that water in coastal aquifers, a major source for coastal regions, was being polluted by aquaculture and excessive withdrawal of groundwater.
Increased salinity plagued most villages in 10 coastal mandals of the district having a 100 km-long coastline, he says.

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