Keonjhar: The government claims it gives a lot of importance to fisheries along with farming. But the claim falls flat if the miserable condition of a fish breeding centre at Jhumpura in this district is taken note of.
There are five fish spawn breeding centres in Keonjhar. They are at Musahakhori under Patna block, Telkoi, Machhlao (Ghasipura), Digadha (Keonjhar) and Jhumpura.
Sadly, the one at Jhumpura has been lying closed for the last four years.
This breeding centre used to produce 22 lakh seedlings annually. Now, local farmers are unable to avail seedlings and have to depend on private traders and spawn traders of West Bengal.
It is learnt that due to a canal work of Kanpur irrigation project, the fish breeding centre was damaged. However, no step has been taken for its renovation, fish farmers lamented.
“The canal has occupied almost half of the fish breeding centre. Since then, the centre has been lying closed,” said locals.
Farmers from Jhumpura, Joda and Keonjhar usually buy spawn from the centre.
The government had set up this fish breeding centre on 11.383 acres in 1995 and the fishery department had dug out 17 ponds over 5.40 decimal of land.
The centre used to produce fish spawn varieties like Rohi, Bhakura, Mirikali and China Rohi. Farmers were being provided with spawn. Many used to eke out a living from fisheries.
But farming had stopped four years ago and about 10 ponds of the centre were damaged by the irrigation canal.
Farmers said they are unwilling to go to distant fish breeding centres at Keonjhar and Patna to procure spawns. The closure of the centre has directly affected fishery development in the district.
The issue was taken up at an RPDAC (rehabilitation and peripheral development advisory committee) meeting. Local farmers pointed out that when any facility is damaged by a project, there is a provision for compensation. But no compensation has been provided to the breeding centre, they lamented.
They demanded an alternative place for the breeding centre. They had apprised the collector and the executive engineer of the Kanpur Irrigation Project and the Jhumpura tehsildar about the need for an alternative land for the breeding centre. But it is alleged that the revenue department has not yet identified new land.
Sushant Kumar Singh, project director, said if the department concerned intimates the authorities on the extent of damage, compensation could be provided.
District fishery officer Manorama Mohapatra said a letter had been issued to the revenue department to identify a land and hand it over to the fishery department.