Strays may deprive them of their fishes and loaves

Strays may deprive them of their fishes and loaves

While the villagers are trying to eradicate the stray menace by giving up catfish breeding, what appears to go unnoticed is the fact that as many as 7,000 people will have to relocate from Razaakpalya for the second time in a decade, to earn their livelihood.

Once thriving in silk business, Razaakpalya villagers had to quit the profession with imported China silk giving them a stiff competition. Barring two households, the entire village of nearly 500 families then took up cat fish breeding. But such is their fate that the stray dog menace is now forcing them to find alternative vocations.

Nestled in an area of three kilometres within Bagalur, Razaakpalya, a Muslim-dominated village, seeks reprieve from the focus of the city authorities and the State government, to lead a normal life.

After 40 years, over 1,800 voters from the village voted for the BJP in the recent Zilla Panchayat and Taluk Panchayat elections, but the community seems to have been let down by the government.

With the stray dog menace and the unhygienic conditions in which catfish are bred “illegally” in their backyards, the Fisheries Department has issued notices to put an end to the trade.

Meet Shabana, a 24-year-old housewife and breadwinner for a family of five. Shabana and her husband breed catfish for five months, before selling it to ‘agents’ for a meagre sum to make a living.

“We left the silk business nearly nine years ago. It became unviable for our survival. The business of breeding cat fish has been relatively lucrative, providing money for at least three meals a day,” she said.

Every five months, Shabana gets a handful of small catfish at Rs 3 each from Andhra Pradesh. Having a pit dug on a one gunta of land, the pond is used to breed the fish for nearly four to five months. “We then sell it to the same agents who brought us the fish for a small profit,” she said.

After four months and spending close to Rs 16,000 on the fish, the family makes Rs 25,000 in the fifth month by selling them. This is the story across the entire village where at least 200 guntas of land have been converted into catfish breeding ponds, producing at least 800 tonnes every four months.

Abdul Sathnar, 80, says the village has nothing to depend on except catfish breeding. “The village will be wiped out if the Fisheries Department notice is implemented. From silk business to fish breeding, we have changed our profession twice, but there seems to be no respite for us,” he rues.

The agents are also staying  away from the village after the stray dog menace came into focus, he says.

Villagers say the stray dog menace was no more than an excuse to move their entire settlement. Razaakpalya was previously served notice to shutdown fish-breeding activity in June last year. “Luckily, at the last panchayat meeting in June, three members voted against permanent shutting down of the breeding centres, while two voted in favour,” said Sathnar.But this time, the villagers are anxious over what would befall them.

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