KENDRAPARA: Cyclone Yaas and the resultant floods have shattered the hopes of around 10,000 shrimp and fish farmers of the coastal district and nearby areas. Shrimps and fish in farms and ponds over vast stretches of land in many villages of Rajkanika, Aul and Rajnagar blocks have been washed away, causing huge losses to the farmers.
Aquaculture farmers of Rajnagar are the hardest hit. Pravat Das, a shrimp cultivator of the seaside Batighar village said, “My shrimp farms over six acre of land were completely washed away by the tidal surge. I lost shrimps worth `30 lakh from my gheris. I don’t know how long it will take to recover the loss.”
Sources said aquaculture lifted many people out of poverty within the last decade in the district. Many fishermen had reared juvenile fish a few months back. But the gushing floodwater and tides washed those away. This apart, many houses, structures and equipment surrounding the ponds and farms were also washed away.
Abhiram Biswal of Padanipal village said almost all the fish from my pond were swept away in the flood. “Last year, I spent Rs 50,000 to renovate the pond and released the juveniles two months back. Now my fate is hanging in balance,” he rued.
President of Odisha Marine Fish Producers’ Association Sumant Biswal said huge quantity of shrimps were washed away by tidal surge that breached the embankments at many places during Yaas and floods in the coastal parts of the State. The shrimp farmers of Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur have incurred massive losses.
President of Odisha Traditional Fish Workers’ Union Prasana Behera demanded introduction of interest-free or low interest loans to enable farmers to overcome the losses incurred in the cyclone and flood.
Contacted, district fisheries officer Mamata Mohapatra said, “Only 729 shrimp farmers have registered their farms spread over 1400 acre of land in Kendrapara. But other farms are illegal as those violate the coastal regulation zone and the rulings of the Supreme Court.
“Farmers cultivating shrimp without registering with the Coastal Aquaculture Authority are liable to be imprisoned for three years and levied a fine of up to `1 lakh. Only the registered shrimp farmers are entitled to get help from the government. We are estimating the loss and all the affected shrimp and fish farmers will get assistance from the department,” Mohapatra added.