Crocodile devours fisherman near Maharashtra tourist spot

July 21st, 2008 - 9:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Nagpur, July 21 (IANS) Panic gripped the fishing community in the vicinity of the Nagbhid forest range in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra following an incident of a crocodile devouring a fisherman in Ghodazari lake near a favourite boating centre for tourists. Ashok Bhanarkar, a young member of the Nagbhid-Navkhala fishermen’s cooperative society, was spreading the net as usual along with his three companions after entering the lake from its shallow edge when a crocodile caught hold of his leg and dragged him into deep waters Sunday.

People in the nearby villages, who rushed to the spot hearing the alarm raised by Ashok’s friends, were stunned to know of the incident as they never expected such a thing to happen in a part of the lake daily swamped by hundreds of fishermen.

Part of the British-period dam with a nearly 600 hectare water-spread has been handed over by the irrigation department to the fisheries department which gives contracts to fishermen’s cooperative societies - the Navkhala society alone has over 1,000 members regularly fishing in the lake.

A private company, Rajkamal Tourists Complex Pvt Ltd, runs a boating centre-cum-water sports activity in the other part of the lake. The centre was closed down for a day Sunday following the shocking incident but did not open Monday as well as no tourists turned up.

While people say the fisher-folk did know that the lake was inhabited by a few crocodiles, none expected the dreaded reptile to venture into waters ‘disturbed’ by human activity.

Also no one seems to know for sure whether the forest department has introduced the crocodiles into the lake or whether they migrated into Ghodazari either from one in the Tadoba-Andhari-Tiger Reserve nearby or from the district’s other lake Aolamendha through canals.

Rajkamal proprietor Chandrapal Chouksey, who operates three more tourist centres in eastern Vidarbha, told IANS it was for the first time that such an incident has happened.

“In any case, there is no need to panic as the spot where it happened is 3 km away from the boating centre”, he said.

Assistant Fisheries Commissioner P.S. Badole told IANS that his officers were investigating the matter and that he would talk to the officers of wildlife wing before recommending closure of fishing activity in the area.

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