GUWAHATI, Aug 9 – Thousands of families directly and indirectly dependent on fish farming as their source of income have been hit hard by recent floods in several districts of Assam. According to sources in the Fisheries Department, close to 14,000 ha of land containing fisheries had been inundated and will require immediate restoration. In economic terms, the loss is yet to be fully ascertained, but financial support has been considered essential for the farmers’ well-being.
The unexpected damage – especially in its magnitude – to fisheries could not have come at a worse time because the sector was improving in the last few years, and Assam’s dependence on fish sourced from outside was gradually diminishing.
Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Morigaon, Nalbari, Barpeta, Nagaon and parts of Kamrup are among the districts where inundation of fishing ponds and tanks has taken place during the monsoon. Significantly, many fisheries in Nagaon were inundated by flood waters, which has been described as a recent phenomenon.
Well-placed sources in the Fisheries Department said that there would be a requirement of substantial infusion of funds if the fisheries sector has to tide over the difficulties in the days ahead.
Funds will be required to shore up embankments of fisheries, remove siltation and provide farmers with fresh stocks. Support may also be needed in the form of soft credit to scores of affected farmers. Encouragingly, in some parts of the State, the restoration of fisheries has already started and more is in the offing.
The Fisheries Department is now awaiting reports from the various district offices to compile a comprehensive assessment about the actual damage caused to the fisheries. Based on that, funds will be sought under the Central Relief Funds and other schemes.