Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries Sector – Pashudhan Sanjivani, E- Pashudhan Haat, etc

Farakka ‘lock’ and Hilsa Fish


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Farakkha Barrage, Hilsa fish

Mains level: Not Much

It has been reported that an old project to facilitate the movement of Hilsa upstream along the Ganga to its spawning grounds of yore may come to fruition this year.

What is the news?

  • Back in February 2019, the government had unveiled a project to redesign the navigation lock at the Farakka Barrage at a cost of Rs 360 crore to create a “fish pass” for the Hilsa.

Hilsa Fish

  • In scientific parlance, the Hilsa (Tenualosa ilisha) is an anadromous fish.
  • It lives most of its life in the ocean, but during the rainy season, the Hilsa moves towards the estuary, where the rivers of India and Bangladesh meet the Bay of Bengal.
  • A large part of the shoal travels upstream in the Padma and the Ganga — some are known to move towards the Godavari, and there are records of Hilsa migration to the Cauvery.
  • Culinary lore has it that the fish that travel the farthest upstream have the best combination of the flavours of the sea and the river.

Try this question from CSP 2019:

Q. Consider the following pairs:

Wildlife Naturally found in
1. Blue-finned Mahseer Cauvery River
2. Irrawaddy Dolphin Chambal River
3. Rusty-spotted Cat Eastern Ghats

Which of the pairs given above are correctly matched?

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 2 and 3 only

c) 1 and 3 only

d) 1, 2 and 3

Obstructions created by Farakka Barrage

  • Historical records also show that until the 1970s, the Hilsa would swim the Ganga upstream to Allahabad — and even to Agra.
  • But the Farakka Barrage, which became operational on the Ganga in 1975, disrupted the westward movement of the Hilsa.
  • The barrage had a navigation lock that stopped the fish from swimming upstream beyond Farakka.
  • In Buxar on the border of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the last recorded catch of the Hilsa was made 32 years ago.
  • The role of the Farakka Barrage in disrupting the Hilsa’s journey is well documented and has been discussed in Parliament as well.
  • On August 4, 2016, then Union Water Resources Minister told Lok Sabha about plans to create “fish ladders” to help the fish navigate the obstacle posed by the barrage.

Fish ladders/fishways/fish passes

  • Fish passes — also known as fish ladders or fishways — aim to assist fish in crossing obstacles presented by dams and barrages.
  • They usually consist of small steps that allow the fish to climb over the obstacles and enable them to reach the open waters on the other side.

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