GUWAHATI, March 18 - In a landmark move, the State government has decided to hand over the administrative control of all natural water bodies – beels, oxbow lakes, low lying areas, swamps, derelict water bodies, dead river courses, river tributaries and reservoirs, which were so far being settled by the Revenue & Disaster Management Department – to the Department of Fisheries.
The move has been initiated for proper scientific conservation and management of the natural resources in a productive manner for sustainable development and economic development of the people in the vicinity of such natural water bodies.
The State fishery department had only 141 government farms as its asset and they were primarily engaged in fish seed production and distribution. The Assam Fisheries Development Corporation has 185 beels, comprising around 10,000 hectares of land.
There are around one lakh hectares of beels (430 registered and 767 unregistered) in Assam under the State revenue department. Derelict water bodies comprise around 1,16,444 hectares of land.
“Such natural bodies shall be administered by the fishery department through its directorate/district/subdivisional level officers,” a government notification stated.
“It is a bold initiative of the government. It will have a major positive impact in fish production. We will have to adopt a mission mode approach. It will also generate thousands of rural livelihood opportunities,” Fisheries Director SK Das said.
Nodal officer (Blue Revolution) Dr Ramen Barman said the present average fish production of these beels has been 300 kg per hectare per year and 250 kg in case of derelict water bodies. “Using a better management system, we can enhance the production up to 1,500 kg in case of beels and 3,000 kg in case of derelict water bodies,” he said.
The State’s current fish production is 2.94 lakh tonnes against the demand of 3.36 lakh tonnes.
The fisheries department is in the process of formulating a modality for managing these water bodies once transferred to it from the revenue department. The department is planning to engage a technical officer with each MLA to help manage the water bodies in their respective constituencies.
According to the notification, in case any such natural water body has been already leased out by the DC/SDO, the right of fishing in the water body will be retained by the lessee till the expiry of the lease period, unless he or she obstructs the developmental steps taken by the fishery department.