Round the year availability of water is generating new hopes for Telangana’s fisheries and aquaculture sector
While the Union government replaced the much-coveted Blue Revolution Scheme (BRS) with the Prime Minister Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY), Telangana recently undertook a herculean task of attaining the high-profile ‘Blue Revolution’, aiming to achieve all-round development in aquaculture and fisheries sectors.
The PMMSY scheme came into existence as part of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, while Telangana’s ‘Blue Revolution’ was orchestrated with the augmentation of water resources from the re-designed Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation scheme. It may be mentioned that the centrally-sponsored BRS was being implemented during the last five consecutive years (FY15 to FY19), by sharing contributions from the States concerned. This scheme was receiving good response from the beneficiaries across the country, yet it was shut and a new scheme – PMMSY – with similar objectives, started.
Unlike never before, the contribution of inland fisheries in total fish production has been increasing across the world following the diminishing inputs from the marine fisheries sector due to adverse biodiversity conditions, ecological imbalances, etc. India, the second largest fish producing country in the world, is also registering a falling trend from marine and an escalating trend from the inland sector. The contribution of the marine sector was 73% against the inland production inputs of a meagre 27% way back in 1956-57 and the figures almost reversed by 2018-19 with the marine sector dwindling to a mere 29% and the inland sector contributing a whopping 71%.
The most important factor for the multifold increase in fish production from inland fisheries is technology-based cultured fisheries. The share of the cultured fisheries through modern aquaculture methods during 2018-19 was 53% and the rest came from traditional captured systems.
With the prestigious Kaleshwaram irrigation project and its related reservoirs and distributaries taking shape fast, Telangana has been witnessing a sea change in water availability and irrigation resources, generating new hopes for the future of fisheries and aquaculture.
Despite having no coastline and being geographically landlocked, Telangana is the third largest inland water resources territory in the country and is blessed with abundant aquatic possessions to develop the traditional fisheries sector as well as technology-based state-of-the-art aquaculture methods simultaneously. This will also create massive employment and earn good foreign exchange through fishery exports.
Owing to the lackadaisical attitude of the erstwhile administrators of the combined State, the development of the fisheries sector in Telangana was confined only to the customary activity by a few communities.
The exploitable aquatic resources for the development of fisheries and its allied sectors in Telangana, particularly in the wake of Pranahita-Godavari river waters through Kaleshwaram re-designed lift irrigation projects, have been amplified from the earlier 5.72 lakh hectares of usable water spread areas to around 6.94 lakh hectares now.
Interestingly, the aquatic resources generated from Pranahita-Godavari river basins not only enabled construction of several large and medium reservoirs for water storage but also ensured year-long full tank level water storages into the existing tanks in the catchment areas covering as many as 19 of the 33 districts of the State.
‘Mission Kakatiya’ removed sludge from whopping 45,000-odd tanks enhancing the water storage capacities to around 20% on average. The ongoing Palamuru-Rangareddy lift irrigation projects being taken up across the river Krishna would also create similar water resources across this river basin, more particularly in South Telangana.
The ‘Blue Revolution’ is justified with the creation of the required water resources. Accomplishing the exceptional task of ‘Blue Revolution’ may not be trouble-free if we evaluate the prevailing circumstances and ground realities within fisheries and aquaculture sectors in Telangana which need to be refurbished thoroughly. However, given the bountiful usable water resources to develop fisheries and aquaculture, fish production and productivity, fish seed production and rearing, upgradation of technology and adopting modern methods in fishing through aquaculture, fish processing and value addition, creating local marketing network and exporting fish products, etc, must be accorded priority.
Many problems undoubtedly accumulated during the co-existence of combined Statehood regime. The fisheries department has been reeling under inadequate employees’ strength. Also, though the Telangana fisheries sector is supported with a strong network of around 4,000 cooperative societies with about 3.35 lakh registered members, most of them are confined to traditional fishing methods.
The present TRS government has been making efforts to rectify the laxities and the results are emerging. Evidently, the annual fish production during 2014 — the State formation year — was 2.46 lakh tonnes. This increased to around 3.40 lakh tonnes in FY19-20, registering a steady growth of about one lakh tonnes in just five years of Telangana’s existence!
The State government initiated the free distribution of fish seed through the fishermen cooperative societies during the last five years and implemented the ‘Integrated Fisheries Development Scheme’ with an outlay of Rs 1,000 crore, for infrastructure development of the sector all the way through cooperatives.
With favourable circumstances, including renovation of tanks through Mission Kakatiya, sufficient resources to ensure year-long availability of water to refill the tanks, lakhs of enthusiastic and well-organised fishermen and women, around seven lakh hectares of sprawling water spread areas coupled with numerous upcoming reservoirs, hundreds of kilometres of the river Godavari back waters, and above all with the serious commitment of the State government, Telangana can cruise towards ‘Blue Revolution’.
(The author founder president of Telangana Fisheries Society and a member of the World Aquaculture Society and Asian Fisheries Society)
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