KATHMANDU, April 25:
The Budhigandaki Hydropower Project has sought technical know-how and support on running fisheries from the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD).
The national priority project of 630 MW has started exploring opportunities to cash in on its 63-sq km reservoir which is 15 times larger than the Fewa Lake.
Writing a letter to MoAD, the project has sought suggestions on the types of fishes that can be reared in the reservoir and the legal procedures to start commercial fisheries.
Talking to Republica, Laxmi Prasad Devkota, president of the project, said they had sought ideas and suggestions for starting fisheries in the reservoir.
The project is slated to be completed in seven years. Design of the project is already ready. Works to prepare Detailed Project Report (DPR) started recently. The DPR is expected to be ready within 16 months.
Ramanand Mishra, chief of National Fishery Development Program (NFDP), said they would carry out study and provide suggestions to the project on appropriate species of fish for the reservoir. “The study would take around three months,” Mishra said, adding that around Rs 350,000 is required to conduct the study.
Similar fisheries are in operation in the Kulekhani reservoir for the last two decades. NFDP has a hatchery farm in Kulekhani. It releases around 700,000 fingerlings annually in the country´s first reservoir project. There are 600 cages in Kulekhani for cage culture of fishes. The locals affected by the project have formed a users´ group. The group harvests fish and sell them in the market.
According to Mishra, the Kulekhani reservoir produces fishes worth Rs 30 million annually.
“Though there is huge prospect of starting fisheries in reservoirs of several hydropower projects, we have not been able to conduct study or start fisheries there due to resource constraints and other technical problems like of silt deposit and deep dams,” added Mishra.
It is difficult to do cage culture fishery in run-of-river projects as water level there keep fluctuating.
Experts suggest programs like commercial fisheries in big hydropower projects while studying Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) to conserve local species as well as support livelihood of people affected by the project.
Devkota said they have already sought suggestions from the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Ministry of Urban Development, and Ministry of Irrigation to study the possibility of developing the project into a multi-purpose project.
The reservoir could be important to provide irrigation in farms downstream as well as in Tarai when rivers shrink during dry months.
Source : Republica