With the onset of the monsoon, the fishermen community living in and around the Dumbur lake, located at the Gomati district of Tripura, once again presume to bear huge losses because of the unabated smuggling of fish in the off-season period. A huge population of the area was dependent on fishing and the reservoir was their only source of income.
According to the local fishermen, every year, in the stretch of June to September when the authorities cease everyone from fishing at the reservoir in view of the breeding season, a nexus of the fish thieves get their traps activated.
The arbitrary and unlawful practice being carried out by the thieves, since long, posed serious problems before they licensed the fishermen as they failed to net profit at the end of the season.
Sources said, the Dumbur reservoir had been closed for fishing in the Month of June and it was opened in September for fishing. There are altogether 2239 fishermen who are entitled with the licenses to catch fish from the reservoir in the fishing seasons sans October to May.
But, in this off period, the smuggler section gets active in the area and indiscriminately lifts young fish from the reservoir. Owing to this, the fish population fell drastically and the entire fishermen community faced the consequences in the fishing season, some of the locals pointed out.
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One being asked specifically on the issue, sources in the fishery department said, the department is bound to take stringent action to protect the rights of the licensed fishermen. But, due to the acute shortage of manpower in the field level, there is very little left to be done to prevent these rackets.
“The licensed fishermen pay a royalty to the authorities for selling fish in the markets but as a huge quantity of fish gets smuggled using twisted routes, the government fails to earn what it actually can”, said the source.
The source requesting anonymity also revealed that some political powers backed them always and there were, also some influential people who used to control the racket hiding behind the curtains.
“There are only 10 to 12 field officers posted here and the Dumbur reservoir is stretched in not less than 20 to 25 kilometers both in length and breadth. The miscreants very smartly put their traps in certain areas which are thinly populated. Every time in the off season, we conduct field surveillance seeking help from the police department . Sometimes, we are even proved successful as many tools used to catch fish are seized but no person gets spotted in the area. These kinds of visits are made 4 to 5 times in the off season. Though, we feel these kinds of surveillance should be tightened up to thwart the miscreants misusing public property”, a fishery official said.
One of the fisherman said, with every passing year, the number of fishlings set open in the water is increasing with every passing year. But, what the fishermen catch round the year gets decreased drastically. The nexus of the fish traders who supply fish from the reservoir to several markets of the state unlawfully is solely responsible for that, the fisherman alleged.
Allegations had also been raised against the DRDC (Dumbur Resrevior Development Committee) for not taking any strict measures against the longstanding issue.
The DRDC Chairman MLA Raimavalley Dhanajoy Tripura only recently took part in a high-level meeting pertaining to the closure of the reservoir. The MLA also announced a slew of welfare measures that were undertaken to financially assist the fishermen families during the offseason. This year, every family would be given Rs 2,000 per month along with 30 Kgs of rice, the MLA told reporters but said nothing regarding the fish smuggling issue. He had also announced that this year altogether 30 lakh fishlings would be sat open in the reservoir in comparison to the 22 lakh done last year.
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