Special Correspondent

KOCHI: The State Government is setting up the country's first aqua park for ornamental fish production and marketing at Kadungalloor, near Aluva.

The project will cost about Rs. 3 crores and will be located on four hectares of land. Minister for Fisheries S. Sarma, who visited the site on Sunday, told presspersons that the project would be implemented with participation of private entrepreneurs, financial institutions and Government agencies.

He said infrastructure such as laboratory, quarantine, provision of power and water and storage facility would be provided at the park, so that rearing, marketing and export of ornamental fishes would get a boost. To promote commercial production of ornamental fishes, satellite farms would be set up near Neyyar Dam in Thiruvananthapuram district and Pazhasshi project area in Kannur district.

Support would be given to local people near the satellite farms for raising homestead farms. The fish grown in these farms would be marketed and exported by the aqua park.

Mr. Sarma said the technology required for the park would be acquired through global tendering. Private entrepreneurs would be invited to invest in the project as well as to raise homestead farms. He claimed that the park would provide 2,000 direct jobs and 5,000 indirect ones.

The Minister said ornamental fish rearing had a booming global market, but India's share in this market was marginal. He noted that Kerala's weather was conducive for rearing freshwater ornamental fishes. There was plenty of demand for a dozen of Kerala's own species.