The scorching heat-wave sweeping across Jharkhand has now affected pisciculture. Nursery ponds at Machli Ghar in Doranda, Ranchi — one of the biggest fish breeding centres in Jharkhand — have dried up, prompting a fish seed crisis in the state.
The fishery department is currently in a fish-saving mode, shifting brooder fishes, which are eligible for breeding, to a pond where water is being filled manually.
The centre, which supplies around 45 lakh fish seeds across the state, has 17 nursery ponds, four rearing ponds and three stocking ponds, said Shyamlal Choudhary, 62, a retired fishery extension supervisor. “All the nursery ponds, three rearing ponds and one stocking pond have dried up for the first time in the past two decades,” said Choudhary, who gives voluntary service to the fishery department.
The fish spawn are bred and reared in a controlled environment in the farm, following which they are released into big reservoirs and water bodies across the state. Officials working at Doranda, however, blamed the unplanned construction and poor vision of the civic body for the current crisis.
“Earlier, water from the forest colony used to recharge our ponds. Since concrete roads have cropped up around the localities, the water now falls into a drain near AG colony,” Choudhary said.
“The scorching heat has also increased temperature of water in ponds, which is fatal for the survival of spawns. To protect them, we are shifting the brooder fishes to stocking ponds,” Anil Nayak, a fisherman at Doranda farm, said. He was shifting fish from a dried pond to a live pond on Saturday and said the water level at two stocking ponds are being maintained through the manual supply of water.
State fishery department officials said other rearing centres are also facing a similar situation. “Water has drastically dropped in Dhurwa’s Shalimar training centre, Gumla, Hazaribagh and Dumka. State farmers require around 900 crore fish seeds during the monsoon season for production. This year, production of fish seed may drop,” state fishery department deputy director Ashish Kumar said.
This crisis could also severely impact Jharkhand’s ambitions of becoming self sufficient in fish production by 2018. The state had produced 1.06 lakh metric tonne of fishes during 2015-16 against the annual requirement of 1.40 lakh metric tonne.
The depleting water levels in dams and rivers have also affected the cage culture for fish production. All 50 cages installed at Ranchi’s Hatia dam for production in 2012 were removed as the dam does not have adequate water to rear fishes in cages. The dam, which currently supplies potable water to two lakh households thrice a week after rationing in parts of Ranchi, has merely 8.9 feet water.