strange phenomenon

An alien fish is wreaking havoc in the Krishna river after it was linked to the Godavari

Fishermen say the non-native rakashi fish, which no one wants to buy, is damaging their nets and keeping other fish away.

The linking of the Godavari and the Krishna rivers in Andhra Pradesh, which was inaugurated last year, seems to have led to an unforseen problem.

Fishermen in Guntur district’s Tadepally village on the banks of the Prakasam Barrage, which straddles the Krishna, are complaining that a species of fish, hitherto never seen in the river before, was damaging their nets and scaring away other fish. Consequently, they say their catch, and earnings, have dropped.

“I have been a fisherman since I was child,” said Paikam Suresh, 35, of Tadepally village. “Nowadays we are catching a new kind of fish which we call rakashi. This rakashi is ruining our livelihood.”

Drop in income

Rakashi, in Telugu, means the devil. The fishermen of Tadepally have given the fish this name thanks to the havoc it is wreaking with their livelihood.

The carnivorous fish belongs to the armoured catfish family. It is not native to the Krishna river, where species like the Bengal carp (catla), reba carp, grunter, white carp (mrigal), the snakehead (murrel) and other small fish called jalalu locally are found.

The rakashi is more trouble than it is worth. For one, there is scant demand for it. Then, fishermen complain that the rakashi’s fins get entangled in their nets, and it takes at least two hours to extricate it. If 10 such fish get entangled in one net, it can take the whole day to get them out. Fishermen say they are often forced to cut their nets to extricate these fish.

All this has affected their daily income.

Suresh and his fellow fishermen say they used to earn Rs 500 a day from catching 200-300 fish. Now their catch has dwindled, and no one wants to buy the rakashi that they invariably catch.

“We are a poor family and because of this fish our nets are being spoiled,” said Suresh. “Each net costs a minimum of Rs 5,000. Also the Rakashi feeds on other fishes in the river and we are losing our livelihood.”

He added: “Recently officials from the Fisheries Department came and examined the fish and told us not to sell or eat it.”

Suresh said that the fish had only been spotted since the Pattiseema lift irrigation project started. The Rs 1,300 crore project, inaugurated in August 2015, is envisioned to take 80 thousand million cubic feet of water from the Godavari through the Krishna to Andhra Pradesh’s parched Rayalaseema district.

Dangerous for diversity

Flummoxed experts are now studying whether the new species entered the Krishna river from the Godavari.

“Even we came know about this only recently,” said M Basava Raju, joint director of fisheries, Andhra Pradesh. “It might have come due to the interlinking of Godavari and Krishna waters. Even we don’t know the exact reason. We have asked our officials to investigate.”

Farida Tampal, state director, Worldwide Fund for Nature in Hyderabad sounded an alarm, saying that the armoured catfish doesn’t belong to either the Godavari or the Krishna rivers.

“It is highly carnivorous and an aggressive breeder too,” she said. “We have to take immediate steps to eradicate this breed. Government officials don’t take anything seriously until we lose all our fish diversity. It feeds on other fish species, especially on fingerlings. That way it is more dangerous.”

Tampal added that the rakashi is a native of South America that lives in shallow muddy waters and hooks onto pebbles using its spines.

Since the fish also feeds on algae, it is much sought after across the world as an aquarium fish, as it keeps the tanks clean. Tampal added that even the South Americans are trying to eradicate this fish from their rivers.

Environmental impact study

Marine experts say that rivers should not be interlinked without studying the environmental impact of such projects on marine life.

“Before interlinking rivers, we have to consider many things,” said marine biologist A Manimekalan. “We have to study the native species present in that area, see how breeding is affected if rivers are interlinked.”

Manimekalan added: “Rivers can be interlinked if they have the same native species in both waters. Otherwise the entire ecosystem will be disturbed.”

Tampal agreed. “Apart from different species, even pollutants can be carried from other river to another and water quality could change,” she said. “It is difficult to predict all this as this type of research is very poor in India. Interlinking needs to be studied seriously before implementation.”

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

Play

This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.