Illegal mining causing damage to fisheries, admits Himachal Minister

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Shimla, Feb 13 (IANS) Illegal mining in Himachal Pradesh has been causing damage to fisheries and aquifer. The state has produced 563 tonnes of fish in this fiscal till January and its production is declining due to four-laning of roads.

The government has admitted this in a written reply during the ongoing budget session of the state Assembly.

Scattered and scanty rainfall is also responsible for the decline in water level in five reservoirs – Gobind Sagar, Pong, Kol, Chamera and Ranjit Sagar – that has hampered the overall production of fish in the past few years.

“The tributaries to the reservoirs are the breeding and feeding grounds of the fish. Scanty rainfall and delay in arrival of monsoon in the past few years resulted in the decline in water level in the reservoirs that impacted their breeding,” Fisheries Minister Virender Kanwar said.

Besides illegal mining in rivers, unscientific dumping of road construction debris in the rivers is also responsible for destroying the fish breeding grounds, he said.

This has caused a decline in fish production in the Gobind Sagar in Bilaspur district also.

The overall fish production in the reservoir was 279.913 tonnes till January 15 in this fiscal, the Minister said in a reply to a question by Congress member Ram Lal Thakur.

The government has stocked 22.152 lakh tonnes fingerlings of the common carp, major carp and silver carp in the reservoirs this fiscal.

The major fish species available in the streams of Himachal Pradesh are trout, mahseer, barilus and glyptothorax.

Fishery, both in the government and private sector, is not only providing livelihood to the fishermen but also helps generate revenue for the state, a spokesperson for the Fishery Department told IANS.

He said schemes and efforts made by the government have increased fish production, besides providing opportunities for self-employment.

Trout, both brown and rainbow, are found in the Beas, Sutlej and Ravi rivers in the higher reaches of the state.

Being a game fish, the brown trout is also an angler’s delight.

To promote trout farming, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur in his budget proposals for the next fiscal announced construction of 100 additional trout farming units.

He also proposed construction of ponds in 10 hectares for production of carp fish and to establish a smoked trout and fillet canning centre in Kullu district in partnership with private sector.

Himachal Pradesh, with its five rivers, numerous streams and reservoirs, has a big potential for fish production, say experts.

Of the 3,000-km network of fisheries’ water resources, 600 km of cold water streams are conducive for trout farming.

The average annual production of a small fish farm is 900 kg, whereas a large farm could produce up to 3,400 kg, says a study by the Shimla-based Himachal Pradesh University’s Agro-Economic Research Centre.

–IANS

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