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To town to catch carp

- Angling lease for Cooch Behar tank made by royals
Mukut Roy Chowdhury (left) releases a fish into Sagardighi in Cooch Behar town on Sunday. Picture by Main Uddin Chisti

Cooch Behar, May 19: Fleshy carp caught in the heart of Cooch Behar town may soon be on your plate.

An NGO, tasked with beautifying Sagardighi, has set up a trust to introduce fishing in Sagardighi, a man-made water body at the centre of the town, near the Cooch Behar palace.

In March, the district administration had tied up with Calcutta-based NGO Subhas Nagar Creative Awareness and Development Association.

Recently, the NGO set up the Wetland Tourism Cooch Behar Initiative to introduce fishing in the water body that spans 13.5 acres.

District magistrate Mohan Gandhi said Sagardighi has been leased out for five years. “We have leased out the water body to an NGO for five years. They have formed a trust that will look after angling and also supply fishing rods and tackle to anglers. This is the first time that such a facility is being introduced at Sagardighi,” Gandhi said.

The water body was built by Maharaja Harendra Narayan in 1812.

The tank was then used to supply drinking water to residents.

The royals of Cooch Behar often rode around Sagardighi in their horse-drawn carriages.

Ten tonnes of fish, among them varieties of carp and tilapia, will be released into the water of Sagardighi.

Mukut Roy Chowdhury, chairman of the trust, said the administration and the fisheries department approached the NGO to improve fish production in the water bodies across the district.

Yesterday, 500kg of fish — rohu, katla, mrigel and silver carp — were released into Sagardighi. Each fish weighed between 2 and 7kg.

“We plan to release 10 tonnes of fish into the water body next month. Sagardighi can hold up to 20 tonnes of fish,” said Roy Chowdhury, who is an agricultural expert and a facilitator for the NGO, from Calcutta.

An angler would be charged Rs 2,000 for a day’s fishing. The timings have not been fixed yet.

The money collected would go to the trust and it would be used for the beatification and maintenance of Sagardighi.

“We will allow angling from July after the monsoon sets in. We are going to install angling chairs and set up 24 CCTV cameras around Sagardighi,” Roy Chowdhury said.

Sources said fish would be released into the water body throughout the year.

Sadhan Dey, an angler in Cooch Behar town said: “Sagardighi was under the civic body and it was not being looked after properly. Now, with a single agency, it would be better for the waterbody’s beautification and maintenance.”

The civil contractor added that: “I have many friends who are keen anglers. Whenever we find a new place to fish, even if we have to pay, we spend our free time there. We anglers are very excited about being able to fish right here in the town. I am certain that people from other towns who are equally enthusiastic about angling, will come here and enjoy themselves.”