Odisha government has signed a lease agreement with Falcon Marine Exports for operation of Jagatjore Shrimp Culture Project in coastal Kendrapara district.

The Jagatjore-Banapada Shrimp Culture Project was executed by the State Fisheries Department with loan assistance from World Bank.

The cost of the project then was Rs 25.23 crore. The project was completed in 2000.

Under the project, 405 ponds, each having 0.5 hectare water area, were allotted to 405 beneficiaries of lower income group and 76 large ponds, each one hectare area, were allotted to 11 entrepreneurs.

Shrimp culture was taken up in 2001 and Rs 81 lakh was provided to the BPL beneficiaries as working capital. However, only one crop was partially successful and after that the project became defunct, said, Pradeep Kumar Maharathy, Fisheries and Animal Resource Development Minister.

As the entrepreneurs and farmers sustained huge losses, the project become defunct and the sub loans and the leases given to beneficiaries were cancelled.

As the project remained idle for years, the government received several suggestions from the Seafood Exporters Association for making use of the infrastructure developed, said fisheries and animal resource development secretary B P Sethi.

However, it was later decided to go for long term lease agreement instead of outright sale of the project. As per the decision, the lease process was finalised by the Directorate of Fisheries in which Falcon Marine Exports has been selected as the highest bidder for three clusters in Jagatjore, with a gross area of 433 hectare comprising 437 culture ponds spread over 257 hectare of water area.

The lease period will be 15 years during which, the Government will get revenue of Rs 13 crore from the lessee.

Sethi said it expected that about 2500 MT of L Vannamei shrimp will be produced in the initial year with a value of about Rs 100 crore.

The success of the project will generate employment and interest among the farmers of the area for better aquaculture practices, Sethi said.