Kolkata: the city that eats fish reared on untreated wastewater sewage

It all started as an accident, if you believe the story that the fishermen of the east Kolkata wetlands tell. Around a century ago, a cultivator named Bidu Sarkar accidentally allowed untreated wastewater from Kolkata’s sewage pipes into his fish pond. Realising what had happened, Sarkar expected disaster. Instead of killing his fish, however, the water doubled his yields. When fishermen from the surrounding area came to find out more, they discovered that the combination of sewage in the water and sunshine broke down the effluent and allowed plankton, which fish feed on, to grow exponentially. Soon thousands of fish farmers had set up bheris, or fishponds, across 12,500 hectares on the eastern fringes of the city. Today, according to Dr Partha Prathim Chakrabarti, principal scientist at the Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture, the east Kolkata wetlands provide a living for some 50,000 cultivators and fish traders, most of them small-time private entrepreneurs who earn an income rearing 10,000 tonnes of wastewater-fed fish a year. Read the story here 09:50