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Scheme to make use of MGNREGA to boost production of near-extinct fishes

Kolkata: The Panchayats and Rural Development department has prepared an elaborate scheme to augment production of near-extinct fishes by using Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) Scheme to help people coming from economically challenged background.
The Panchayats and Rural Development department and state Fisheries department are working hand-in-hand for success of the scheme.
From 2016-17 for the combined scheme, the fund allocation was Rs 12.60 crore from 100 days work and Rs 11.39 crore from the departmental budget. In the current financial year, the allocation is Rs 11.74 crore for the combined scheme and Rs 2.21 crore from the departmental budget.
With the money available under the scheme, pisciculture will be carried out in water bodies that have been renovated, along with production of fish seeds, renovation of the ghats and training to those involved. A place to dry fish will also be constructed.
To take an example, a few hundred families are associated with the project in Onda block in Bankura.
Similar projects are been implemented in
Chakdah block in Nadia and Dhaniakhali in Hooghly district.
The beneficiaries are digging up small tanks in their houses to grow Magur fish. For preservation and sale, a state-of-the-art centre has been constructed at Onda. Self Help Groups (SHG) and people from economically challenged background are being involved in the project. In the coastal areas, space has been created to dry fish.
A survey has revealed that nearly 50 varieties of fishes have become near-extinct. Fishes like Sarpunti, Khaira, Kanklesh, Techokha, Phului and Lata have become nearly extinct. These fishes are very tasty and full of protein.
The reasons for them becoming extinct are indifference to renovate the water bodies and lack of initiative to improve pisciculture. Senior officials of the Panchayats and Rural Development department feel that within the next few years, all these near-extinct varieties will once again be available in the market, thanks to proper planning.
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