Jagatsinghpur: A team from the Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI) visited the district about a year ago to study the potential of fish farming here.
The survey report said the district has the potential to produce 600 tonnes of fish a year, and that it can fetch revenues of around Rs 7 crore.
With the administration doing little to improve fish production, the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the CIFRI team has been gathering dust, and has downed the spirits of farmers here.
There was a time when the Alaka River in Jagatsinghpur was navigable. Now it has lost almost its identity. Land sharks must take the blame for the present condition of the river which is almost dead.
The condition of Balia and Kathjori Rivers are no better. Land mafia and many others have already grabbed acres on the banks of the river, and have got them registered in their names by greasing the palms of revenue officials. Encroachments are another factor responsible for rivers getting squeezed.
However, to exploit the remaining portion of the rivers, the fisheries department prepared a DPR in 2016-17.
The executive officer of the fisheries engineering division and the district fisheries officer conducted an extensive survey across the district, and had earmarked places having potential for fish farming. The DPR was then sent to the government.
The DPR said aquaculture is possible on the five-km long dead area of the Kathjori along Sadeipur-Redhua in Raghunathpur block. This dead area is 300 metres wide, muddy and covered with weeds. But it has electricity and road facilities near it.
Residents of the other two villages, namely Tihuda and Gopalpur, will also benefit. But 75 hectares of land needed to be upgraded to make it ready for fish farming, the DPR said.
It also said that the dead area of Balia is fit for fish farming. But 50 hectares of the riverbed and the river have to be upgraded.
The riverbed is muddy and covered with weeds, and there is a road near it. Once the project becomes operational, the villagers of Badang, Balia, Parianga and Patapur stand to benefit.
Similarly, a survey was conducted to ascertain whether the dead Alaka has potential for fisheries in Biridi, Jagatsinghpur and Naugaon blocks.
This revealed that ponds measuring three hectares can be dug on the riverbed. If the scheme takes off the villagers of Balia, Kaspa, Dandilo and Sadhei stand to benefit.
Ponds can also be dug on 25 hectares between Ichhapur and Majhikora in Balikuda block. The villagers of Ishwarpur, Nardia, Majhikora and Otira will benefit from this.
In the next phase, projects can be started in the dead Alaka in Banaradi, Kaliagaon, Nuagaon, Arakhapali and Madhupur villages as the river gets water during the rains, the DPR said, adding that in future projects can be launched for Rambhadeipur and Kendal, and in Jot area of Jagatsinghpur block.
The DPR also said that ponds of around 80 decimal to an acre can be dug. But where the riverbed is wider, larger ponds are possible.
Self-help groups (SHGs), primary fisheries cooperative societies, big farmers or businessmen can take these ponds on lease.
After receiving the DPR, the government sought the assistance of CIFRI to conduct a detailed survey.
A four-member CIFRI team was in the district on a four-day visit for a techno-economic feasibility study. The team had given a favourable opinion on the feasibility of fishery projects in the district.
They said if the plan is implemented fish farming is possible on 150 hectares of riverbeds and 600 tonnes of fish worth around Rs 7 crore can be produced.
At that time it was expected that the project would soon materialise, and hundreds of jobs would be created. The government could extend the project area in future, paving the way for the district’s development. But the project was abandoned midway, leaving the public in disappointment.