By Romit Bhattacharyya

Kolkata, Mar 31 (PTI) Hilsa, the darling of fish
lovers across West Bengal and Bangladesh, could be breeding
upstream in the mighty Ganges later this year, after almost
four decades of being locked out by the Farakka barrage across
the river.

A new navigation lock is in the making at the barrage
— created to save Bihar and West Bengal from flooding and to
generate hydel power — to enable hilsa breeding in the next
few months.

Fish connoisseurs along the Ganga, up until Uttar
Pradesh”s Allahabad, maybe able to savour fresh hilsa as the
project will make way for their travel upstream from beyond
the Farakka, said a top official of L&T Geostructure.

The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) had
contracted L&T GeoStructure for the new Farakka navigation
lock in Murshidabad district, as a part the Jal Marg Vikas
Pariyojana, and said it will make a special arrangement to
allow easier passage of the hilsa.

The movement of the popular fish in the Ganges till
Allahabad came to a halt after construction of the old Farakka
navigation lock in 1976, officials said.

“The new Farakka navigation lock is expected to be
complete by June,” S Kanappan, Head and Chief Executive of L&T
Geostructure, said.

The Centre had said in 2019 that based on research on
the breeding season of the hilsa, the operation of
navigational lock will be regulated to facilitate their
movement from the Hoogly-Bhagirathi river system upstream to
the main Ganga river and vice-versa.

Kanappan said due to the inefficiency of the existing
navigation lock gate at Farakka, about 280 km from Kolkata,
the IWAI proposed a new one, which will feature modern
features like electro-hydraulic and remotely-controlled
operation of all gates from a control room.

The new navigation lock will entail an investment of
around Rs 361 crore, the officials said.

Hilsa, considered a nonpareil delicacy when fried,
smoked or cooked in mustard sauce, typically travels up the
rivers Ganga, Brahmaputra and Irrawaddy from the Bay of Bengal
during the rainy season to spawn.

The fish is also found in the Arabian Sea from where
it goes upstream through rivers in Gujarat and Pakistan”s
Sindhu river, as well as in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Vietnam
and China seas.

The peak upstream migration of the fish coincides with
the advent of Monsoon — July and August — and continues up
to October and November, according to a 2017 report by the
Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute.

The report had also suggested that a “bypass channel”
be created in the western side of the existing navigational
channel at the Farakka Barrage to facilitate natural upstream
migration of hilsa.

The first phase of the Jal Marg Vikas Pariyojana
covers the Haldia-Varanasi stretch, and aims at developing
fairway and multi-modal terminals, strengthening of river
navigation system and conservation works, the officials said.

Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI

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