Viresh Kavatagi, 33, a BE and MBA graduate, and a techie cum managerial employee in an MNC, was about to quit his job after tasting success in fisheries last year. He planned to quit his job after selling the produce from the second spell. However, about 17,000 fish have died in his farm, causing a loss of Rs 40-45 lakh. It is suspected that they died due to heat waves.

Kavatagi told TOI that he had procured snakehead murrel fishes from Hyderabad a year ago. “We had started fisheries at our ancestral agriculture land in Aheri (Madabhavi Tanda) by constructing a farm pond in about 15 guntas in 2021. We had fetched a profit of Rs 8 lakh by selling fish weighing over 8 tonnes.

Inspired by this, we consulted many experts and spent about Rs 20 lakh to enhance the yield. We removed the dead fish on Sunday and found out that they weighed over 15 tonnes. As the fish prices have gone up this time, we were expecting an income of about Rs 40-45 lakh this time. However, this development has ruined my plans, and I am blank now,” he shared.

Kavatagi had emerged as a model farmer in the region and claims to be the first in Karnataka to take up fishery scientifically with the help of Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana. His fellow farmers in Aheri said that Kavatagi’s farm pond has emerged as a reference for farmers wishing to take up fishery. “Farmers from Vijayapura, Bagalkot, Raichur and other districts have been visiting us, seeking guidance,” they shared.

Prakash Bhajantri, assistant director of the fisheries department, Vijayapura, said: “We had visited Kavatagi’s field in January and everything was fine. We had given some suggestions and they had been implemented promptly. After the mass death of fish, we visited his fields again and found out that the water had oxygen scarcity. Meanwhile, we have sent samples of dead fish for a lab test and have been waiting for the report,” he added.

Ironically, there is insurance for all livestock but not for fish. “Even there is no compensation for the loss of fish. Let the govt conduct any inquiry or study on what caused their death. Our fish never suffered any disease or illness. They weighed an average of 1.5 kg. Considering all these aspects, the govt should compensate our loss. If it does not, it will be a bad precedence for farmers who aspire to take up fisheries,” demanded Kavatagi.