Post News Network
Sambalpur, June 6: Nearly 140 species of fish have become extinct in Hirakud reservoir due to lack of proper security and negligence on the part of district administration, a report said.
Corroborating the fact, official sources stated 183 types of fishes including Hilsa, were available when the dam came into existence in 1957. Since then, fishes of 141 species have been vanished and now only 42 are left in the dam, it added. Moreover, mafia carrying out fishing activities in the dam and excessive collection of fish have led to a considerable decline in number of species of fish, sources said.
That apart, several companies on the upper catchment areas of the dam allegedly draw huge water through pumps and release pollutants in to the dam. This has made the matter worse.
Earlier, fishes of several rare species were in the farm lands of the farmers of nearby areas which used to flow directly into River Mahanadi and Hirakud dam in rain water. But the release of wastes and polluted water have changed the course of aquatic animals and resulted into their disappearance. Coal mines, sponge iron factories, cement factories and hydro electric projects on the upper part of the dam have caused significant damage, environmentalists said.
Reports said there are six sectors in the dam where fishing is allowed. Five fishing cooperative societies and fishery department collect fishes from these sectors. Similarly, net enclosures have been put in the dam under Rashtriya Krushi Yojana (RKY) for pisciculture, which had generated revenue of `10 lakh during 2014-15 fiscal. The amount was deposited with one of the cooperative societies.
A proposal for setting up of five more societies in Bargarh, Jharsuguda and Sambalpur districts was moved some four to five years back. However, the file is gathering dust due to official apathy, it is alleged.
On the other hand, the water level of the reservoir at the confluence point of rivers Mahanadi and Ib is 630 feet. Besides irrigation, power generation and flood control, the authorities aimed at fish farming here. About 5,000 people in the peripheral regions eke out a living from fishery. But their livelihood is at stake due to the use of large fishing nets by mafia. Department officials allegedly encourage them instead of curbing such activities.
When contacted, district fisheries officer Abdul Rasid said the demand for the fish harvested under RKY is less in the market. So, it fails to achieve the target set by the department.
Meanwhile, forest and environment minister Bikram Keshari Arukh May 15 said he would take up the matter with the government to set up a special unit for the conservation of fishes of rare species and also push for getting formulated a special law to curb illegal fishing activities in the dam. Though it has been over 20 days, action is yet to be taken in this regard.