.........SONEPUR:Fresh water fish population is gradually declining in the rivers Mahanadi, Ong and Suktel flowing through the district.
Increase in pollution of river water and presence of toxic waste have been affecting aquatic life. To add to the problems, fishermen are blasting portions of the rivers regularly to kill fish in order to catch them. Once available in abundance, quality fresh water fish has become a rare sight in the district these days.
There are 3,779 water bodies under various gram panchayats in the district. This apart, there are 102 water bodies under the control of Revenue Department besides, 572 private water bodies and Hariharjoar Irrigation Project. Instead of utilising these water bodies for pisciculture, the authorities concerned have left them neglected.
The water bodies are filled with silt and wild vegetation and over the years, their water holding capacity has gone down drastically. Ironically, the degradation of the water bodies has gone unnoticed, which could have otherwise generated revenue for the gram panchayats.
As per the report of the State Government, the district produces around 8,000 tonnes of fresh water fish besides 150 tonnes of fresh water prawns. Yet, the generation is not enough to meet the local demand of 12,000 tonnes. The districtís surplus demand is met from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.
District Fisheries Officer Pradeep Kumar Dey attributed the fall in fish population in the river to rampant blasting. He said under the impact of the blast, small fishes are dying and this is also leading to pollution in the river. While he admitted to the declining catch, he said steps are being taken to boost fish production in the district. Dey added that the Fisheries Department is supporting digging of water tanks for pisciculture and 1,00,000 spawns are being developed in the fish farm at Binka and Sonepur for distribution.