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Replenishing ground water resources through 'Catch the Rain & Rear Fish' - An inter-departmental successful initiative

Port Blair ,

        In a first of its kind initiative in the Islands, the Department of Fisheries in consultation with Department of RD & PRIs, APWD and other Departments of Administration has worked out a project under the tag line 'Diggi Macchi' (Pond Fish) with an aim to recharge the ground water resources and food security in the form of fish production which is under consideration of Ministry for approval. As a token of commencement of this initiative, Ms. Veditha Reddy, Secretary (Fisheries), A&N Administration released freshwater fish seeds in the new reservoir pond constructed in the campus of Dr. B.R Ambedkar Institute of Technology (DBRAIT), Dollygunj under 'Catch the Rain' Project. The Secretary (Fisheries) appreciated the initiative of DBRAIT and Department of Fisheries for taking up such rain harvest projects as well as for promoting Aquaculture as a supplementary activity. Shri Utpal Sharma, Principal, DBRAIT, Dollygunj informed that the rainwater harvested in this reservoir pond will be used for meeting the requirements of the campus thereby reducing dependency on the Govt. water supply. This 2000 Sq.mt. reservoir pond will be maintained and managed by DBRAIT to make the campus 'Green, Clean and Beautiful'. It is worth mentioning that the pond at DBRAIT has been created from scratch with 1 crore litres capacity which will cater to the water supply requirements in the campus and also promote aquaculture.
     This initiative has been taken up taking into account the gradual diminishing of  groundwater resource of Andaman and Nicobar Islands due to increase in population. Though the Islands group receives on an average 3180 mm of rainfall, most of it goes away to sea due to rugged topography and deforestation.
     To cope up with this situation, the only feasible solution is augmentation of the diminishing water resources with artificial recharge techniques including construction of Check Dams, Rain Water Harvesting and Ponds.          Dr. Utpal Kumar Sar, Director of Fisheries informed that the stocking of fish seed will help in creating aquatic life in the ponds and thereby make water healthy, clean and pollution free apart from fish production. For this purpose, a detailed project proposal costing Rs. 285.00 Lakh by convergence of resources from various Central Sector Schemes, i.e MGNREGA and PMMSY. The project will cover major underutilized Govt. lands including grazing lands, farm lands of around 25 Ha. The utilization of existing water bodies of Municipal area is also one of the motto of this initiative.
     The Department has also planned to release Departmentally produced seeds of freshwater fishes in the Govt. owned water bodies of APWD, PBMC and other Govt. institutions in and around Municipal areas for augmenting freshwater fish production. Presently, these water bodies are not being utilised for fisheries related activities. This may generate additional revenue and help in maintaining healthy water conditions of those aquatic systems in a sustainable manner. For this purpose, the Department has already identified 12-15 water bodies in the municipal areas for stocking the seeds as a part of these initiative.
     The implementation of the project will be through approx. 50 selected Self Help Groups of the Islands thereby providing employment opportunities to 500 beneficiaries. This will also help in irrigation of agriculture/fodder lands and domestic usages and thus contributing to boosting of rural economy of the Islands. The present proposal is aligned with the focussed areas of dream project of the Hon'ble Prime Minister’s 'Jal Shakthi Abhiyan' to create more water spread areas for multilateral activities and for recharging the ground water resources.
      As a pilot project, it is proposed to create 01/02 ponds in each Panchayat/Govt. farm or revenue land as per availability of suitable land with the following objectives: -
w   Increase in area under freshwater Aquaculture of A&N Islands.
w   Attaining self-sufficiency in freshwater fish production.
w   Recharging ground water.
w   Enhancing water spread area.
w   Popularization of Aquaculture practices.
w   Increasing the availability of fodder and possibility of Horticulture.
w   Utilization of Govt. owned land for income generation.
w   Strengthening of SHGs through entrepreneurship.
w   Improvement of water holding capacity and ground water availability.
    This project will increase freshwater fish production from 305 MT to 410 MT within one year and will be a milestone for making A&N Islands self sufficient, a press release from Directorate of Fisheries said.