The Telegraph
Tuesday , March 6 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Band sings paeans to fish culture

- Mukul launches aquaculture mission

Shillong, March 5:It’s time to stop, It’s time to wake up, Move forward with a vision, Start with the Aqua Mission, Be not just a consumer, Be a producer, Dependency to self-sufficiency, Turn this dream into reality...”

The excerpts from Mission with a Vision — the theme song of the Meghalaya State Aquaculture Mission performed by local band Android — outlined the objectives of the ambitious programme which was launched today at the Polo ground here.

Amid the presence of hundreds of fish farmers from across the state, chief minister Mukul Sangma launched the aquaculture mission which will be implemented, co-terminus with the 12th Five Year Plan from 2012-17 with a tentative expenditure of around Rs 1,200 crore. Sangma, who has dreams of transforming the mission into a “people’s movement”, said the mission was “unique and exclusive” for the people with a thrust on making Meghalaya self-sufficient in fish production.

Official estimates indicate that while the annual fish consumption in the state is around 11,000 metric tonnes, the production in Meghalaya is only 5,000 metric tonnes. However, this ambitious programme, which is one of the nine missions under the Integrated Basin Development and Livelihood Programme, intends to produce 15,000 metric tonnes of fish in five years.

The mission, which has been further sub-divided into six other mini missions, also intends to expand the area under fish ponds by 10,000 hectares in five years on the lands of one lakh farmers.

Individuals who will partner with the government for the mission will have to shell out 15 per cent of the total cost. The remaining 60 per cent and 25 per cent will come in the form of financial grant, and credit from banks at a subsidised rate of interest, respectively.

Sangma said the process of enrolment of fish farmers in all the 39 blocks of the state will commence from Monday next. The chief minister also appealed to all the elected representatives (legislators and members of the district councils), social organisations, self-help groups and traditional institutions to help the government in ensuring the mission becomes successful.

Stating that the mission has the potential to provide employment opportunities, Sangma appealed to the unemployed educated youths to take advantage of the programme. It will also have functional convergence with programmes like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) and thematic convergence with line departments like water resources, soil and water conservation, tourism and others.

An integral part of the mission is the monitoring and evaluation process, which would provide an opportunity for intervention during implementation and mid-course corrections.

The other objectives include development of existing waterbodies and creation of additional water area for largescale fish production.

This includes reclamation and rehabilitation of marshy and swampy lands, and conservation of native, endangered and traditional species of Meghalaya and developing breeding farms of commercially potential species on a large scale. It also aims to create mass awareness, capacity building, exposure training and skill development of all stakeholders and technical support for long term sustainability and capturing emerging opportunities in the fisheries sector.