A hospital with water tanks and aquariums instead of beds — Kolkata is set to have its own fish hospital by mid-2015.
“The hospital will have 25 circular water tanks, each with a capacity of 500 litres, and around 50 glass aquariums to admit and treat diseased fish. The construction has already started and is almost halfway completed,” said TJ Abraham, a fish microbiologist with the West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences (WBUAFS).
The Rs. 1.75 crore project is being funded by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, under the Union ministry of agriculture.
While West Bengal is the leading producer of fish seeds (baby fish), until two years ago, it was also the leading producer of fish. Now, however, Andhra Pradesh has overtaken West Bengal.
Researchers have said that they have detected at least 60 types of diseases and abnormalities in the in the fishes of southern Bengal.
With the untreated municipal waste, industrial run-off, pesticides and chemical fertilisers that drain into the water bodies of the city, new pathogens have started developing.
Worse, scientists have found that some bacteria have developed multiple antibiotic-resistances and therefore, can travel from fishes to human beings.
“Once the hospital comes up, fish cultivators can come to us with diseased fishes. Once the necessary tests are performed, we can suggest medicines and treatment,” said Abraham.
There are plans to open small diagnostic clinics in each district to help cultivators.
A similar effort is being undertaken in Kochi, Kerala in association with the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies.