Express News Service

GUWAHATI: Hit hard by the Covid pandemic with the music industry reeling under its impact, a well-known Assamese musician has delved into a fish farming pond.

Bipin Chawdang said joblessness for two years made him eke out a living in a non-musical way. “I had a piece of land measuring 1.6 hectare which lay unused. I myself have been a paddy farmer and I have a fair idea about how much I can earn by growing paddy on the land. I thought I should try my luck in pisciculture,” the singer, widely popular for his Bihu songs, told The New Indian Express.

He had approached the Fisheries department for financial support and technical know-how. Under Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana, the government gives a subsidy of 60%.

Bipin dug a pond on his land at Khoomtai Chakalia in Charaideo district. He said he had spent around Rs 14-15 lakh but received a subsidy of only Rs 1.13 lakh so far.

“They (government) had assured that I would be given the remaining amount of subsidy soon. I have been waiting for it for a long time. They were also supposed to give me the fish feed but I haven’t received it,” the singer lamented.

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The Fisheries Department said Rs 2.26 lakh had been released to the singer out of the sanctioned Rs 5.04 lakh. The fish in his pond has grown up to 400 grams.

“Their enthusiasm (Bipin and his wife Monoshree) and dedication towards the fisheries sector is exemplary and they have a desire to make it an integrated fish farm and a spot for agro-tourism,” Pratul Deka, a fisheries development officer, said.

Official sources said like Bipin, much educated unemployed youth, who have been rendered jobless, took to pisciculture in a big way with subsidy from the government. The Fisheries department has launched a new scheme for promoting intensive aquaculture through biofloc technology.

The biofloc-based farming system is a new technology for the promotion of intensive fish/shrimp production in a small area. A person having a small landholding (as small as 150-200 square metres) with either municipal piped water supply or bore well water supply can establish this business with a small investment.

“The programme aims to support fish farmers and young entrepreneurs to make a living. This new and emerging technology would boost fish production and encourage small landholders and entrepreneurs to take up fish farming,” Fisheries Minister Parimal Suklabaidya said.

The cost for installation of a biofloc unit of two tanks is Rs 1.50 lakh while a six-tank unit costs around Rs 4 lakh.

The musicians in Assam rely much on the month-long Rongali Bihu cultural programmes. The events were not allowed last year as well as this year by the government due to the pandemic.