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Fisheries office inaugurated; completed on record time

Shillong: The District Fisheries Office constructed at a cost of Rs.5.47 crore was inaugurated on Tuesday. The three-storied building constructed on 2600 sq metres of land includes a training hall, conference room, aquarium for ornamental fish, a pantry, guest rooms and a library besides other utility rooms. Principal Secretary, Fisheries, K.N. Kumar says the building is futuristic and will look after the needs of the Department for the next 30 years.
The plush office space has replaced the old, dilapidated, Assam-type building which was inherited from the Assam Government in 1972. Kumar says the challenge is to maintain the building to meet national and international standards.
Addressing the audience, Additional Chief Secretary K.S. Kropha who was instrumental in sanctioning the project in 2012 as Principal Secretary, Planning Department, said he is happy to note that the construction has come up at a healthy congenial space.
“There is no excuse for the officers and staff not to perform. I hope this office building becomes more people friendly and that farmers are able to access it more easily,” Kropha said adding that officials are public   servants and must act as such.
“Every farmer or individual who comes to public servants must be given a decent hearing. Even if their demands cannot be immediately met there is a way to explain to people without hurting their feelings. How we act or react with people on a day to day basis is extremely important. Officers need to be more polished and appreciate the problems faced by farmers,” Kropha said.
Kropha also pointed out that this is the first project with no time and cost overruns.
Chief Secretary Barkos Warjri stated that since the launch of the Aquaculture Mission three years ago, the Fisheries Department has shown that it can deliver. From 4000 MT of fish in three years the yield has doubled to 8000 MT, Warjri said. He said it is encouraging to see people requesting the government to assist them with fish ponds.
“Meghalaya’s requirement of fish is 33,000 MT annually so we still have a long way to go to achieve self-sufficiency in fish production but the Department must rise to the challenge. Meghalaya has to compete with states like Assam and Manipur in fish production,” Warjri said.
Explaining that the Aquaculture Mission is an offshoot of the 1000 pond scheme of the central government that ended in 2011, Kumar said that 500 hectares of water area have been brought under this scheme with 695 farmers involved in fish farming. Informing the audience about the impact of the scheme in which the Meghalaya Co-operative Apex Bank (MCAB) is a partner, Kumar said the impact of the credit-linked scheme according to studies is heartwarming.
Kumar informed that 65 per cent of the 2336 farmers have fully repaid their loans, 27 per cent partially paid and 7.5 per cent have defaulted but mainly due to the fact that those farmers have died.
In terms of direct impact there is a 34.75 per cent increase in family income. 40 per cent of all additional income has gone into the education of farmer’s children, 16 per cent of them have invested in better housing and 14 per cent have put their profits in purchase of livestock.
The Aquaculture Mission has been able to plug the gaps found in the earlier programmes, Kumar said.

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