Anantnag: A fish rearing unit, funded under the centrally sponsored “Blue Revolution” scheme, has turned into a gambling den, a safe haven for drug addicts, and a garbage dumping site for locals, here in Wanpora area of Qazigund in Anantnag district.
An initiative by the department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries of the Government of India, the ‘Blue Revolution’ was supposed to increase fisheries production and productivity from aquaculture and fisheries resources, both inland and marine.
Under this scheme, in 2009, 16 kanals of land were identified in Panzeth, Wanpora area of Qazigund, to set up a fish rearing unit, which would have modernised the fisheries sector in Kashmir and aided in increase in production.
The water source of the farm is the Panzeth spring, one of the most famous fresh water springs in Kashmir valley, which was expected to improve the quality of fish at the farm.
“25 lakh rupees were spent in one go to construct a rearing house, followed by expenditure in lakhs to construct race courses (channels for the fish to swim in),” a source in the Fisheries department told Kashmir Reader.
He said that the place was then abandoned by the department for more than 10 years, and only a month back some fish were put into three of the race courses that were constructed some years ago.
“Meanwhile, the unfenced premises of the rearing unit turned into a gambling den. You come anytime during the day and you can see people gambling here,” the source said.
In the evening, the place turns into a haven for drug addicts, the source, as well as locals, said.
“The department has been complacent in fencing the premises and has allowed it be used and abused by the gamblers and the drug addicts,” the official in the fisheries department said. Besides, he said, many locals have turned the place into a trash bin.
The locals and sometimes even the government functionaries have been seen dumping the garbage into the land meant for this fish rearing unit. “The project has been delayed and I don’t know why, but the place should have been protected from gamblers and drug addicts. The authorities have allowed the people to turn the premises into a cesspool and a haunt for criminals,” the official said.
Kashmir Reader tried talking to Director Fisheries, Muhammad Amin, who did not answer his phone.
Joint Director of the department, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, termed reports of the farm only starting to function recently as a “rumour”. “The farm has been functioning since a long time. I don’t remember from when but it has been a long time,” Bhat said. He acknowledged that there was no fencing to the complex and blamed lack of funding for that.
“There has been a lack of funding for the project. But the premises are clean and no one is dumping any garbage there,” Bhat said. He, however, did not answer the question regarding use of the premises by gamblers and drug addicts.