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Kapla Beel�s reputation of producing local fish takes a hit

By HarAmohan Barman

BARPETA, Feb 2 - The famous Kapla Beel in Barpeta district is fast losing its reputation of producing local fishes, thus creating financial trouble for those dependant on it. It has also deprived the people from the taste of delicious fish, which they had boasted till a few years back.

The Beel, located towards the south of Baniyakuchi-Haladhibari under Sarthebari revenue circle in Barpeta district, is the habitat of a number of species of indigenous fishes like kawai, magur, singi, sol, puthi, khalihana, barali etc., which are rare in many parts of the state. These fishes have good demand in markets all over Assam.

Local fishermen, mostly belonging to Kaibarta community, living in Baniyakuchi, Haladhibari in Barpeta district and Solmara, Bori, Tapa, Ghorathal in the adjoining Nalbari district used to catch fishes in the Beel and sell them in the local market. The surplus was sent to other places of the state. Most of the people belonging to the fishermen community were dependant on this Beel. After agriculture and brass metal industry, production of fish in Kapla Beel was a dominant factor in the economy of this area.

People from far-flung areas visited Baniyakuchi Bazar to buy Kapla�s kawai. It was a matter of pride for many people to add a curry of kawai in their daily menu. The size, the variety and the taste of the fishes available in Kapla Beel were unique and love for it was very much natural.

But the reputation of the Beel has begun to diminish with time. Unabated encroachment, growth of invasive weeds, blockage in the flow of water, deadly disease of fishes for years together and haphazard activities in the name of development have threatened the very existence of the Beel, not to speak of varieties of fishes.

The Kapla Beel is very deep and never dries up. As a result, it not only produces fish, but also works like a barn for these indigenous fishes. As the rainwater begins to flow from the neighbouring low-lying areas through the canals adjoining the Beel, schools of fish come out of it. They reproduce by natural ways and the entire eastern part of Barpeta becomes abundant with varieties of fishes during summer and autumn. As the water level in the adjoining low-lying areas begins to recede with the advent of winter season, they again start their journey towards the Beel for a safe haven. But most of the canals adjoining it are blocked now-a-days, thereby causing inconvenience for the movement of aquatic creatures.

Most of the areas surrounding the notified fishery of Kapla has been encroached upon by some unscrupulous elements. Though the people of this area have been demanding eviction of the encroachers who have occupied the Beel and the adjoining grazing reserve, the authority is yet to attend to it.

Invasive aquatic muck, mostly unabated growth of water hyacinth is a major problem to the growth and movement of the fishes. Though muck is necessary for the indigenous fishes, too much of it has shrunk the habitat, compelling them to migrate to other places. Besides, decomposed weeds have created siltation in the fishery area.

Another major cause behind the depletion of rare local fishes in this area is the prevalence of epidemic since 1988. During the advent of winter, wounds are created towards the tail of the fishes, which spreads towards the whole body and subsequently the fishes die and float over the water. It creates a very pathetic scene during winter.

This epidemic has not only caused decrease in the number of fishes, but also threatened the very existence of some species. For example, pava and gasi once found in abundance in Kapla Beel and its surrounding areas are no more to be found here.

The Assam Fisheries Development Corporation earns handsome revenue from the fishery every year by leasing out the Beel. But it has not done anything to preserve it. Instead of creating employment out of it, thousands of fishermen and other businessmen have to shift to other options for their livelihood. A large number of them have to spend their days in abject penury in the absence of alternative livelihood.

It is hoped that the government will come out with specific plans to preserve the valuable fishery full of potential for economic development.

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Kapla Beel�s reputation of producing local fish takes a hit

BARPETA, Feb 2 - The famous Kapla Beel in Barpeta district is fast losing its reputation of producing local fishes, thus creating financial trouble for those dependant on it. It has also deprived the people from the taste of delicious fish, which they had boasted till a few years back.

The Beel, located towards the south of Baniyakuchi-Haladhibari under Sarthebari revenue circle in Barpeta district, is the habitat of a number of species of indigenous fishes like kawai, magur, singi, sol, puthi, khalihana, barali etc., which are rare in many parts of the state. These fishes have good demand in markets all over Assam.

Local fishermen, mostly belonging to Kaibarta community, living in Baniyakuchi, Haladhibari in Barpeta district and Solmara, Bori, Tapa, Ghorathal in the adjoining Nalbari district used to catch fishes in the Beel and sell them in the local market. The surplus was sent to other places of the state. Most of the people belonging to the fishermen community were dependant on this Beel. After agriculture and brass metal industry, production of fish in Kapla Beel was a dominant factor in the economy of this area.

People from far-flung areas visited Baniyakuchi Bazar to buy Kapla�s kawai. It was a matter of pride for many people to add a curry of kawai in their daily menu. The size, the variety and the taste of the fishes available in Kapla Beel were unique and love for it was very much natural.

But the reputation of the Beel has begun to diminish with time. Unabated encroachment, growth of invasive weeds, blockage in the flow of water, deadly disease of fishes for years together and haphazard activities in the name of development have threatened the very existence of the Beel, not to speak of varieties of fishes.

The Kapla Beel is very deep and never dries up. As a result, it not only produces fish, but also works like a barn for these indigenous fishes. As the rainwater begins to flow from the neighbouring low-lying areas through the canals adjoining the Beel, schools of fish come out of it. They reproduce by natural ways and the entire eastern part of Barpeta becomes abundant with varieties of fishes during summer and autumn. As the water level in the adjoining low-lying areas begins to recede with the advent of winter season, they again start their journey towards the Beel for a safe haven. But most of the canals adjoining it are blocked now-a-days, thereby causing inconvenience for the movement of aquatic creatures.

Most of the areas surrounding the notified fishery of Kapla has been encroached upon by some unscrupulous elements. Though the people of this area have been demanding eviction of the encroachers who have occupied the Beel and the adjoining grazing reserve, the authority is yet to attend to it.

Invasive aquatic muck, mostly unabated growth of water hyacinth is a major problem to the growth and movement of the fishes. Though muck is necessary for the indigenous fishes, too much of it has shrunk the habitat, compelling them to migrate to other places. Besides, decomposed weeds have created siltation in the fishery area.

Another major cause behind the depletion of rare local fishes in this area is the prevalence of epidemic since 1988. During the advent of winter, wounds are created towards the tail of the fishes, which spreads towards the whole body and subsequently the fishes die and float over the water. It creates a very pathetic scene during winter.

This epidemic has not only caused decrease in the number of fishes, but also threatened the very existence of some species. For example, pava and gasi once found in abundance in Kapla Beel and its surrounding areas are no more to be found here.

The Assam Fisheries Development Corporation earns handsome revenue from the fishery every year by leasing out the Beel. But it has not done anything to preserve it. Instead of creating employment out of it, thousands of fishermen and other businessmen have to shift to other options for their livelihood. A large number of them have to spend their days in abject penury in the absence of alternative livelihood.

It is hoped that the government will come out with specific plans to preserve the valuable fishery full of potential for economic development.