Catfish boom as govt takes a cat-nap

Catfish boom as govt takes a cat-nap

The State government, it seems, is in a deep slumber though the banned African catfish rearing is thriving in and around Bangalore. In the absence of any penalty provision to act against the culprits, rearing of catfish is becoming a big business in the State capital.

So much so, the Directorate of Fisheries recently dashed off a letter to the Animal Husbandry department stating that “it is becoming very difficult to control the menace of African catfish.”

The Directorate has urged the Government to take steps immediately to empower its district and taluk-level officers to seize the fish and authorise the police to file charge-sheets against the culprits.

Easy to rear

African catfish is hardy in nature and easy to rear. Unlike other fish varieties, it grows even in sewage water. It also helps in easy disposal of slaughter house wastes in the city. For these reasons, people are taking up catfish breeding. But catfish cause heavy damage to the ecology as they feed voraciously on local fish varieties.

Though the Union government had banned the breeding of the fish under the Environment Protection Act in 1998, it had not spelt out the penalty provisions to prevent its rearing.

Repeated requests by the State Fisheries Directorate to the Government to provide for such penalty had fallen on deaf ears, official sources said. The problem was assuming grave proportions as catfish rearing had been extended to many of the City’s lakes and tanks like those in Kundalahalli, Tippagondanahalli and Mahadevapura.

In private ponds

The fish were being reared also in private ponds, especially near slaughter houses. Catfish rearing is actually the reason for the bird menace at the Yelahanka air force station. Air force officials, therefore, recently lodged a complaint with the BBMP and the Directorate in this regard, officials added.

The letter said that African catfish seeds were mainly supplied from West Bengal. “So, this is an inter-state issue and only the Government of India is the appropriate authority to deal with it. Therefore, I request you to look into the matter seriously,” Fisheries Director Veerappa Gowda has noted.

When contacted, Gowda refused to comment anything on his letter. He, however, said that it had come to his notice that many of the City’s lakes were being used to rear the African catfish.

Awareness

“Steps are being taken bring in awareness among the people. Neither the Directorate nor the police have any power to take action against the culprits,” he added.

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