ACT I, Scene III
Place: Kamapalli, a small town in Berhampur, Orissa.
Raghunath Rath, owner of local fish hatcheries, is chatting with Kanchan Parida, who runs a business involving packaging and transport of fish products, over cups of steaming hot tea and muri (puffed rice)
Rath: You know Parida illegal fishing and the growing pollution levels are giving me sleepless nights these days.
Parida: You are right. Its almost like reliving the Chilika Bachao Andolan (Save the Chilika Movement). Remember how the local fisherfolk successfully resisted the Integrated Shrimp Farm Project (ISFP) – a joint venture between the Tata Business House and the Government of Orissa on intensive prawn cultivation and export.
Rath: How can I forget, though it was way back in 1991. I still get gooseflesh thinking about the way those men and women braved police lathis and cudgels to break down the gheries (make-shift boundaries) set up by the prawn breeders in the lake that obstructed the movement of their boats, depriving them of their livelihood. Their victory was historic when the Indian Supreme Court banned fish farming within 1,000 metres of the lake.
Parida: Hmm.… but I still feel there are many loopholes in our system. Most Indian cities have a system of disposing effluents in the nearest river or water body.
So every river, including the Ganga and the Yamuna have become the dumping grounds of domestic and industrial waste. This poison kills all species of fish and other aquatic animals. Such indiscriminate dumping also infuses high quantities of harmful elements like zinc, copper and leads in the fishes which are then consumed by humans.
Rath: Yes Mr Parida. And then there are other threats like oil and chemical spillage from large vessels in the high seas, which exposes the marine fish population to
Parida: I must say, inspite of such grave problems, India’s fish production and export is doing phenomenally well. India has
third position worldwide in terms of production of fish. This translates to
4.4 percent of the global fish production. With respect to the gross domestic product (GDP) the contribution of this sector is at
1.10 percent and 5.3 percent compared to the agricultural GDP.
Rath: Yes. Lets hope we are able to grow at the same pace in the future, too.