RENGALI (SAMBALPUR):Even as the Department of Fisheries claims that fish production in Hirakud Dam Reservoir (HDR) has increased since 2010-2011 after support from National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB), the fishermen and members of fishing cooperative societies of the region deny it.
They alleged that the fish production figure shelled out by the department is only on paper and the ground reality contradicts the number. They claim that release of toxic waste by industries in the periphery of the HDR and upstream in Chhattisgarh is taking toll on fish species and production.
Moreover, conversion of deep areas into intake wells by industries to draw water has also affected fish breeding and production, they added.
Spread over an area of 74,592 hectare (ha), the Hirakud Dam Multi-Purpose Project has irrigation, flood control, power generation, water transportation besides fishing facilities. About 10,000 fishermen under five fishermen cooperative societies in Sambalpur, Bargarh and Jharsuguda districts are dependent on the HDR to earn their livelihood.
Matsyajibi Kriyanusthan Committee president Antaryami Pani said while the fish production at national level is 15 kg per ha, 12 kg in the State, it is 2 to 3 kg in HDR. He said the situation is worsening and now fishermen, despite going deep into the HDR, return with a catch of only 2 to 3 kg, he added.
Pani said 379.194 lakh fingerlings were released into the HDR till November last year beginning 2009-10 by the Department of Fisheries with support from the NFDB. Although it had boosted the production to 5 to 7 kg per ha in HDR, it declined to 2 to 3 kg per ha after the department stopped releasing fingerlings in 2014-15. He demanded that the State Government should take steps to prevent direct release of effluent into the dam and restore sensitive areas where fish breed.
Deputy Director, Fisheries, Sambalpur Zone, Pratap Ekka said there has definitely been rise in fish production after fingerlings were released into the dam. The department also remains vigil during the fishing ban period, when fish breed, from June 15 to August 30, and use of zero mesh size nets are restricted strictly, he added.