ROURKELA: Renewed focus on boosting fishery activities in five irrigation dams in Sundargarh district is changing the lives of rural people, particularly those displaced by the projects.
With an aim to enhance fish production to provide gainful livelihood through better management of water resources, the district administration provided fingerlings to Mandira dam of Rourkela Steel Plant recently. The other dams where the project is underway are Talsara in Subdega block, Sarafgarh and Bargaonmal in Lefripara block, Kansbahal in Rajgangpur block and Pitamahal in Lathikata block.
Sources in the Fisheries and Animal Resources Development (FARD) Department said that fishery activities are underway in the district since 2003, but in the last couple of years more thrust is being laid on sustainable earning for the beneficiaries.
The additional benefits for fishermen in this project are that they are being made owners of the trade. Earlier, financial support was being extended to local fishermen for housing under Matsyajibi Basagriha Yojana besides fishing nets, boats and fingerlings.
A top administrative officer said that previously influential people used to get fishing contracts and local fishermen were working as labourers. Now, cooperative societies with more than 51 fishermen are allowed to fish against a paltry payment of `100 per hectare (ha) of water-spread area. More than 2,000 displaced families of the dams have found additional gainful livelihood and are also helping in better management of water resources, he added.
District Fishery Officer Surendra Kalo said fingerlings of ‘Bhakur’, ‘Rohu’, ‘Mrigal’, ‘Calabasu’ and other fish varieties are being procured from Integrated Tribal Development Agency and released in the reservoirs. The peak fishing time is between March and June, he said, adding that the fingerlings are procured from fish farm at Sundargarh and Chiklima farm of Odisha Pisciculture Development Corporation. Individual fishermen are assured an earning of `14,000 to `20,000 per season after selling their produce in the local markets.
In 2015-16, more than 90 new fish tanks were created for fish farming by individual farmers with tank size ranging from 0.5 acre to five acre.