GUWAHATI: Certainly something fishy is going on in the State’s Fishery department that has a large number of ponds only in office files but not on the ground, and ponds shown as new in the office files turn out to be the old ones on the ground. And funds have already been released against all such ponds according to their status in the office files, not on their actual status on the ground.
If this is the ground reality in the department, how can the ‘Ghore Ghore Pukhuri, Ghore Ghore Maas’ scheme announced by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal two years ago meet its goal?
Handing over the appointment letters to a number of candidates for the post of Fishery Development Officers on March 1, 2019, the Chief Minister had said, “Assam must become self-reliant in fish production. The Fish sector has immense potential, and we must vigorously engage in it for deriving the maximum benefits.”
There are a large number of registered and unregistered beels, ponds, river fisheries, tanks etc in Assam. However, the State has to import on an average 12,000 metric tonne of fish annually from other States like Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal among others.
Individual assistances were disbursed under the ‘Ghore Ghore Pukhuri, Ghore Ghore Maas’ scheme. To avail this benefit, an individual has to show the documents of his/her patta land. However, a recent survey on this scheme conducted in Morigaon district has revealed large-scale anomalies. It has come to light that around 40 per cent of the beneficiaries of this scheme have no pond on the ground even though office files show ponds against their names. This is not all. Around 30 per cent of the beneficiaries of this scheme availed the benefits under the scheme showing their old ponds as new ones.
What has gone seriously awry in the ‘Ghore Ghore Pukhuri, Ghore Ghore Maas’ scheme? It is amply clear that the Fishery department did not verify the pond sites physically before granting the assistances, and maybe they went ahead depending on land documents shown to them by the beneficiaries.
Such anomalies have been noticed only in one district. There are other districts in the State. The government is now going to conduct such surveys in rest of the districts.
Assam has 430 registered beels covering around 60,000 hectares of land, and around 700 unregistered ones. Apart from them, there are around 3.70 lakh ponds and tanks and around 5,000 km river fisheries. The total annual production of fish in the State is around 3.50 lakh metric tonne which cannot meet the fish demand of the State that imports annually around 12,000 metric tonne of fish, draining out a huge amount of funds from the State every year.
If the government starts a scheme, it is its bounden duty to see if the scheme is really doing well on the ground. Without proper monitoring no scheme can be successful, and what is seen in the ‘Ghore Ghore Pukhuri, Ghore Ghore Maas’ scheme in Morigaon district is direct fallout of the lack of monitoring by the department concerned.