SHILLONG, May 13: Is the Meghalaya Basin Development Agency (MBDA) heading for an imminent closure after it has fed the state government with a ‘misleading’ figure leading the new government in hunting for a whopping 18,000 fish ponds, which were created by the MBDA under its Aqua Culture Mission. The State Planning Board Chairman, Lambor Malngiang, has expressed disbelief over this astronomical number of fish ponds operating in the state, which were constructed by MBDA.
Sources informed that at the backdrop of this development, the MBDA has since submitted a feasibility report of its activities, after the Chief Minister expressed in the recent past that the MDA government will examine various projects and schemes initiated by the previous government before deciding on their continuance. The Integrated Basin Development and Livelihood Promotion Programme (IBDLP), which is the brainchild of the former chief minister, Dr. Mukul Sangma, has been found wanting in terms of improving the livelihoods of people in the state.
The State Planning Board has sought for a list of beneficiaries, district wise, from the MBDA – which has since been engaged in the exercise as there are serious reservations about this number of fish ponds when fish production is meager in the state. Smelling foul play, sources are pointing fingers at the statement of the former principal secretary, fisheries department, KN Kumar and former chief minister, Dr. Mukul Sangma. Kumar claimed in 2014 that the Meghalaya State Aquaculture Mission (MSAM) launched under IBLDP will see Meghalaya becoming self-sufficient in fish production in the next five years. The former chief minister, too, had claimed that the state will be self-sufficient in fish production by 2017-18.
On that occasion, Kumar had projected that 20,000 ponds will come into the production cycle by 2015 and each pond will be able to generate 600 kgs of fish a year. He had asserted that his department would pursue further and expand the fishing industry in the state while claiming that he wishes to say goodbye to importing of fishes from Andhra Pradesh.
However, sources are mocking now that less than five years from then the state government has to hunt for the fish ponds that were ‘supposedly’ constructed to change the face of the state. Ironically, that ‘goodbye’ has befallen on the fish ponds, said sources, since there are not many ponds to be seen. Despite several attempts, Kumar – who is currently the principal secretary to the Governor of Meghalaya, could not be reached for comments while Dr. Mukul Sangma has gone quiet since the fall of the MUA government in the past polls.