Kullu (Himachal Pradesh): Trout breeding in Himachal Pradesh will take a Rs.1.5 crore hit, estimates say, as a large number of private farms, known for rearing high-quality fish, have been damaged by floods.
Trouts are various freshwater fish of Salmonidae family. Of the 15 species found globally, two trout - brown and rainbow - are found in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
This monsoon the damage to private fish farms in Kullu Valley is abnormally high, say official estimates. This would hit the total yield of the exotic trout species in Himachal Pradesh.
According to the state fisheries department, Himachal Pradesh annually cultivates 18 tonnes and 90 tonnes of trout respectively in government and private farms.
Most of the farms in the state are located in this district.
More than 15 trout farms have been totally washed away in the past two months, said Trout Growers' Association president Balbir Singh.
'So far we have estimated that the damage to the fish farms is more than Rs.1.5 crore. This monsoon the damage is quite high. We have requested the government to assess the damage and compensate the cultivators,' he said.
A 600-km stretch of the cold waters of the Beas, Sutlej and Ravi rivers is the habitat of the trout, mainly the brown ones. The state has around 100 run-of-river trout farms, including six government-run ones, mainly in the interiors of Kullu, Mandi, Shimla and Kinnaur districts.
'A number of private trout farms have been damaged in the past few weeks due to floods. This would definitely affect the total trout production. But the exact loss would be assessed once the monsoon is over,' director of state fisheries department B.D. Sharma said.
Last week, four trout farms located 15 km from here were damaged, said Kullu Deputy Commissioner B.M. Nanta.
'The entire trout farm has been turned into a desert due to flooding. The fish ponds and the pathways for diverting river water into the ponds have been totally damaged and it's not possible to restore it,' fish farmer Jiwan Ram from Banjar said.
A large number of orders of trout procurement have already been received by the local farmers from Delhi and Mumbai for the upcoming festive season, he said.
'Now we are not in a position to supply the stocks,' Ram added.
Trout farmers in the state are facing tough competition from neighbouring Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand, where a large number of private farms have come up.
The state fisheries department is encouraging farmers to adopt trout farming under a central government-assisted scheme to boost production.
The rainbow trout's wholesale rate in Chandigarh is between Rs.300 and Rs.350 a kg. It is sold at Rs.400 a kg in Delhi.
The British first introduced trout in Himachal Pradesh in 1909 in order to promote game fishing.
At that time, fingerling trouts, brought from Jammu and Kashmir, were released in streams of Chamba, Kangra and Kullu districts.
The introduction of the trout was successful as the stocked fish thrived and bred.