BJP MLA from Olpad constituency in Surat district Mukesh Patel on Thursday sought lower rates for power supplied for shrimp farming in the state. Making a representation in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly while speaking on the budgetary demands of the fisheries department, Patel also sought increased land allocation for the purpose.
The MLA also said illegal shrimp ponds should be regularised by recovering fines from those running it.
Stating that the coastal area of Gujarat is spread across 3.76 lakh hectares of land, he said salt factories used 1.30 lakh hectare of land. And that it was viable to do shrimp farming in brackish water in 1.95 lakh hectare land. “Currently, 16,660 hectare land has been allocated for this (shrimp farming)…only five per cent land has been allocated,” Patel said, seeking more land for shrimp farming.
Patel said that at present shrimp farming is being done in 4,000 ponds in the state, and this is providing direct or indirect employment to 1.28 lakh people. He added that if 1.30 lakh hectare is allocated for shrimp farming, then it would be possible to employ as many as 40 lakh people.
Citing the example of Andhra Pradesh, he said that the state government there had managed to create employment for around 5 lakh people by allocating just 37,245 hectare land for shrimp farming, which earns an annual revenue of Rs 20,000 crore.
Demanding lower electricity rates for shrimp farming in Gujarat, Patel said that in Andhra Pradesh, the shrimp pond activity had been accorded the status of agriculture and that shrimp farmers were therefore getting electricity cheap. He added that in AP earlier, the rate of electricity for shrimp farming was Rs 3.75 per unit, which has now been revised to Rs 1.5 per unit.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Patel said, “It is my demand that shrimp farming be given the status of agriculture and electricity be provided at rates accordingly. Currently the rates are high, at Rs 9 per unit.”
Patel also sought to regularise illegal shrimp ponds being run by some people in his constituency. He said fines could be recovered from such people instead of shutting down the shrimp farms, as it provided employment.