Imphal: In a move aimed at protecting and preserving indigenous fish species, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Wednesday released 1 lakh Pengba,which is the state’s fish, in Loktak Lake.

The CM attended a ranching programme aimed at rejuvenation of Pengba (Osteobrama Belangeri) in Loktak Lake and distribution of inputs (Cage Net and Fish Feed) at Sendra in Bishnupur District.

The programme was organised by ICAR-Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute, Barrackpore, in collaboration with the Department of Fisheries, Government of Manipur, and Loktak Development Authority, Manipur.

Addressing the formal function, CM Biren Singh appreciated the concerted efforts and schemes of the ICAR-CIFRI taken up in collaboration with local fishermen and the department in trying to protect and revive the indigenous fish varieties of the state.

Out of 54 indigenous fish varieties, we have now only 35 varieties in existence, he said, expressing concern over the environmental hazard caused by human negligence. He strongly deliberated on the public habit of dumping garbage into the rivers which in turn fall into Loktak Lake, making it hard for the fish and other organisms to survive.

Explaining the story behind implementation of the Loktak Livelihood Mission in 2018, the CM said that during his air travels, he noticed a vast tract of swampy area around Loktak Lake lying idle. This gave him an idea to utilize the area for rearing fish by means of pen culture after clearing the phumdis or floating islands, which in turn will be turned into organic fertilizer, he said.

Singh also said that altogether Rs 15 crore has been sanctioned for developmental works for the peripheral area of Loktak Lake and only about Rs 2.5 crore has been utilized so far.

Highlighting that the shortage of fish production in the state is due to lack of releasing fish in the lake, CM said that we are releasing one lakh fishlings, and aim to release around one crore during the month of May. He also made an earnest appeal to the fish farmers to create awareness among the public as well as stop catching fishlings. The chief minister also appealed to the fish farmers against using electric current to catch fish.

Earlier, around Rs 400 crore were utilised for importing fish to the state annually. However, in the past four to five years, we have managed to bring this down to around Rs 300 crore, Singh informed.

The programme also included distribution of inputs, including cage net and fish feeds to fish farmers’ associations.

The programme was also attended by Fisheries minister H Dingo Singh, Thanga AC MLA T Robindro Singh, MLA Mayang Imphal AC K Robindro, Keirao AC MLA L Rameshwor Meetei, Moirang AC MLA Th Shanti, Chairman Loktak Development Authority, Manipur M Asnikumar Singh among others.

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