Andhra's notorious 'devil fish' swims into tributary of Musi river near Hyderabad

The fish is so disruptive that it has been dubbed 'Rakshasi' (devil) by local fishermen in Andhra's Guntur district.
Andhra's notorious 'devil fish' swims into tributary of Musi river near Hyderabad
Andhra's notorious 'devil fish' swims into tributary of Musi river near Hyderabad
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The infamous 'devil fish', which surfaced in the Krishna River in Vijayawada last year, has now made its way to Hyderabad's own Musi river. 

Writing for the Times of India, Syed Akbar reports that the alien fish, belonging to the genus Pterygoplichthys, was found in the River Esi, a tributary of the Musi, at Devarampalli village of Chevella mandal in Rangareddy district on Wednesday.

The fish has become notorious in the Telugu states over the past one year, as the species is known to feed on commercially important fish breeds, and often entangle themselves in nets, causing a loss to the fisherman. 

The fish is so disruptive that it has been dubbed 'Rakshasi' (devil) by local fishermen in Andhra Pradesh's Guntur district.

Stating that there were no zoological records of the fish being sighted in Telangana before, the ToI report adds that the fish was highly intrusive and could populate a river basin rapidly.

"Though the Godavari-Krishna river interlink has helped farmers in the Krishna delta to a certain extent, it has thrown in new environmental challenges. The invasion of alien fish species like Pterygoplichthys from the Godavari to the Krishna basin is the first warning signal," environmental activist V Satyanarayana told the newspaper.

Meanwhile fishermen in Guntur district from Andhra Pradesh say that the population of the fish has been declining over the past few months in their water body.

60-year-old Tirupati Rao from Tadepalligudem of Guntur district told TNM, "We saw several such fishes that used to get caught in our nets last year. However, it has reduced now, and we rarely see them."

Tirupati, who has been fishing from his childhood, added, "They used to break our nets and tear them, and also used to eat up other smaller breeds of fish.”

65-year-old Sambaiah said, "The fish was useless for us. It only had thorns and no flesh. We just used to throw them away after we caught them, as no one wanted to buy and eat it. 

The local fishermen also say that the fishes arrived with the completion of the interlinking of rivers under the Pattiseema project.

When the fish was first seen

The fish first surfaced in 2016, after the Pattiseema lift irrigation project interlinked the Godavari and Krishna rivers, seeking to drought-proof the state.

The state had said that about 3000 TMC of Godavari water flows away into the Bay of Bengal every year, while there was hardly enough water in the Krishna river. The state's idea was to divert the surplus Godavari water into the Krishna basin and eventually into the Rayalaseema region.

The 'Pattiseema' Lift Irrigation Scheme, proposed to lift water from Godavari's right bank, near the Pattiseema village, and drop it into the Polavaram project's right canal.

The project was designed to draw 120 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) water from Godavari and release it into the Krishna. 

However, it has not been without controversy.  

Several environmentalists and other experts, who are against interlinking of rivers, have often warned that the entire ecosystem of a water body could be damaged, if the animals and plants under the water were not compatible with each other.

“Before interlinking rivers, we have to consider many things. We have to study the native species present in that area, see how breeding is affected if rivers are interlinked. Rivers can be interlinked if they have the same native species in both waters. Otherwise the entire ecosystem will be disturbed," marine biologist A Manimekalan told Scroll.

With inputs from Charan Teja.

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