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Meghalaya to put brakes on Andhra fish
Raju Das
 SHILLONG, Nov 6 – Meghalaya has embarked on an ambitious mission: putting the brakes on the journey of 2,500 metric tonnes of dead fishes from Andhra Pradesh to the State annually, which has numbed the taste buds of the people.

The State imports an estimated 2,500 MT of fishes annually from Andhra, which consists primarily of Indian major carps like Rohu, Katla and Mriga. “This is a great journey of dead fishes (from Andhra Pradesh to Meghalaya,)” KN Kumar, Principal Secretary told a gathering of fish farmers, vendors and officials at an Aquafest here today.

He maintained that this “journey of dead fishes has numbed the taste buds of the people” and the Government therefore has embarked on an ambitious mission to make the State self-sufficient by creating 6,518 ponds and releasing 1,000 fingerlings in each of these water bodies. “Then the people can have a feast,” Kumar, who is a native of Andhra Pradesh and a vegetarian, said.

Out of these 6518 ponds, 5800 have been sanctioned and 5804 farmers have received their first installment from the Government. Another 4355 farmers are awaiting the second installment of the sanction, Kumar said.

The Principal Secretary said that by the end of this year, the ponds would be created and by June-July next year table-size fishes (about 600 gms) would reach the dining tables of the people. “The objective of the Government is to do away with this reliance on the import of fishes from Andhra Pradesh,” he added.

The Government as part of the Aquaculture Mission launched in March last year by Chief Minister Mukul Sangma has provided subsidy for creation of the ponds to a whopping 40,000 proposed fish farmers. Creation of each pond cost about Rs 1 lakh and 60 per cent of the amount comes as grant from the State, 20 per cent as bank loan and 15 per cent as contribution from the beneficiaries.

Today, some of the beneficiaries brought their products at the Aquafest and sold to the people. The fishes consisted primarily Grass, Silver and Common Carps. Kumar said that the Aquafest is an opportunity for the farmers to get introduced with the present market conditions. The next level of the mission is to introduce Indian carps like Rohu, Katla and Mriga.

“We are moving slow so that we don’t get setbacks, but in the next phase we would be introducing Indian major Carps in these fisheries,” he stated.

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