In a unique initiative, the state Fisheries department is all set to utilise rain water to augment fish production in the drought-prone areas of Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore through the formation of watersheds.
The department has found that in various parts of Bankura, Purulia, West Midnapore and in some other districts, a considerable amount of rain water is wasted. If the rain water is harnessed by small dams, it can be used for pisciculture, cultivation and domestic use during the lean season.
After conducting a thorough study on the matter, the department has also found that water stored in dams can also help in reaching the ground water through bottom percolation in the sub-surface. Watershed development may play a crucial role in uplifting the rural economy by increasing fish production. Watersheds can also majorly contribute to the agricultural production, afforestation, water, soil and land management in the drought-prone areas.
According to a senior official of the fisheries department, the state government has given a great emphasis on the development of watersheds in large scale so that fish farming can get a major boost especially in those areas which are not economically viable for fish farming. A watershed can be defined as a land that contributes water to a particular site where fish farming can be developed.
Watersheds are remade in such a manner so that all the highest points in the area are connected. A watershed provides natural environmental unit for planning a developmental initiative. According to sources, watershed mapping has been done in the districts like Purulia and Bankura and West Midnapore to delineate watershed boundaries as well as to suggest the suitable sites for check dams to harvest water. The department has already created a digital map of waterbodies in the area which will help the department in many ways including the improvement of decision making process and managing e-governance in this sector.
The department has chalked out a detailed plan to make Bengal self-sufficient in fish production and also to increase export. The department has a plan to export fishes to other states and abroad in large scale. The government had adopted a method called, People Participatory Programme (PPP) for the sustainable development of fisheries.
The purpose of PPP is to develop an operational method to increase participation of local fishermen in fish production, storage and distribution. State fisheries department has taken up comprehensive development schemes to enhance fishery infrastructure in the state.
Cooperative fish farming has also been given utmost importance. Various schemes have already been introduced which will engage more unemployed rural youth. It also aims to assist the local fishermen to organise Self Help Groups and cooperatives which will increase their income. They were given access to the existing fishing ponds and fishery infrastructure which will boost up rural economy.