The Prawn Story

Inviting people to comment on the concern and suggest the remedial measures.

The power to take property from the individual is rooted in the idea of eminent domain. The doctrine of eminent domain states, the sovereign can do anything, if the act of sovereign involves public interest. The pending Land bill in Rajya Sabha defends industrialization but the same political parties have put forward a blind eye to a glaring example of unethical use of country land for personal benefits .

Travelling along the roads through east midnapore at night ,one can see scores of lights on which were supposedly paddy fields. It startled me to think of whats the reason for all the arrangement for otherwise not soo important open fields. Further inquiry led me to a deeper revelation of a mushrooming business. A unique cultivation of fishes by converting (paddy) fields/Land into ponds digging up small/shallow trenches/ponds. And The tiger prawns are cultivated mostly through the coastlines starting from Chennai. Because they need salt water to live. One can provide Fresh water for other varieties but it might need more investment. The canals connected to the sea provide salt water and water aplenty.

The Canal

The Canal

Supposedly fertile for rice crops the medinipur coastal region, lands are being converted with rapid speed starting 2007-08. A rice cultivator farmer needs an investment of 10-15 thousand for each season to produce an amount with a roi of a max 10 thousand Rupees ,ie 25k in a bigha (0.3306 acre) plot . It’s actually was a revelation to understand how farmers depend on small money to make a living .even more sad with the rate of farmer suicide the government could easily save a life as they don’t need much to have a yield or save them from drowning in debt, Nana Patekar is doing just that..

The Paddy Field

The Changing Grounds

In India there is law, to change a land from its existing functionality prior permission is required.To get to know more on this I decided to explore the Prawn Craze . The prawn industry stated in china and spread along the coastline of south east asia.

Feeding the Tigers

Feeding the Tigers

Land owners are slowly renting out lands for the period for around 25k to 50k for 3 -4 months. The farmers are losing out jobs as it is alleged farm lands are force flooded with salt water for sea connected canals, making them temporarily(10 yrs ) infertile(bcz of salt) .Well some see this drastic conversion as a good means of getting a good buck if all goes good, with an investment of 2-5 lacs by business men for 1 bigha of land leased, a whooping 12-15 lacs can be earned. 80 thousand to 1.2 lac prawns can be put in to grow for 3-4 months and each can nearly weigh 300gms to 500gms totaling 6 tons of prawns from each harvest. The rest of the year the land lies barren and production-less. Losses are also incurred by the private players like it happened in 2012 when diseases spread in the prawns. BAY OF BENGAL PROGRAMME in 1994 introduced the industry , previously putting up a demonstration hatchery in Digha but couldn’t be made operational.

Culturing the Tiger Prawns

Culturing the Tiger Prawns

A total of 3800 hecters are currently in use for production , three districts of West Bengal namely East midnapore ,South 24 Paraganas and North 24 paraganas are active with 30000 Metric tons of produce.IFB the leading brand in this industry has a market share of 50% for providing raw materials like food and larvae for production and other necessary equipments. An International market dependent industry India has currently 2000 million dollars trade and IFB has a share of 150 crores rupees.other companies like Havanti,Unipresident are key players for export and business.Until the late 1980s, Indian hatcheries were experimental and confined to the government sector. In 1990, the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) of the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, established two commercial prototypes with the collaboration of France Aquaculture and Aquatic Farms of Hawaii.

Of all the good things happening, the point of concern remains is the illegitimate consumption of fertile lands for a market which is not even popular in India and which ultimately is hurting the crop production. Of all the ruckus produced by political parties for the Land acquisition bill, THIS is not paid attention to. Why are there no proper audit of lands in general and adding salt to the bruise the farmers are getting affected anyway and in the long run our country of invaluable fertile lands.

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