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Featured Image: File photo of abandoned open cast coal pits. 

By A Newsman

Kolkata, 23 September: IN an innovative move, West Bengal government has taken up an ambitious plan to start fish farming in the abandoned coal pits located at the Raniganj coal belt in Burdwan and has set a target to grow 2.56 lakh kg fish per annum.

The state fisheries department and Coal India Ltd entered into a pact in this regard on Thursday, wherein Coal India has agreed to allow fish framing in its nine abandoned coal pits at Raniganj at an estimated cost of Rs 6.62 crore.

The nine abandoned pits that have been identified for fish farming is spread over an area of 43.56 hectares. While the fisheries department will carry out the framing activities, Coal India will provide the funds as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative.

Such abandoned pits have been a cause for concern for both the state administration and Coal India because it is often that local people venture into them for unauthorised mining, resulting in accidents and loss of life.

They believe that fish farming in the pits would not only negate the chances of illegal mining but also become a source of livelihood for the local population.

The proposed fish farming project will be implemented in two phases over three year duration. In the first phase, farming activities would be taken up in four pits; farming in the remaining five pits would be undertaken in the second phase.

Out of the total fund requirement for Rs 6.62 crore, Coal India has already handed over Rs 97.75 lakh to the state government and the plan is to start the work after the Durga Puja in October.

According to the fisheries department, eight groups of local people will be roped in for the farming activities, and at the end of the third year, the nine pits would start yielding 2, 56,132 kg of fish per annum.