By Philip Marwein
In the quest for preservation of the local indigenous varieties of fish species of Meghalaya the state government, through the Fisheries Department, was rather too late when it lately, declared about 67 rivers or portions of them, in different Districts of the state, as Fish Sanctuaries and entrusted the task of protection and care of these in the hands of the respective Local Village Committees, Local Village Durbars and Village NGOs which were specially formed near these sanctuaries by the Fishery Department which were tasked specially for protection and preservation of the indigenous local fish species as well as the general species which can live, adapt and flourish in these fresh water rivers, some of which are situated in high altitude.
In fact, we have lost so many varieties of indigenous local fishes during last 50 years since Meghalaya came into existence owing to varieties of reasons mainly due to man made like coal Mining, release of toxic chemical and wastes from Cement Plants and other factories, greed to get maximum fishes for sale and consumption by over fishing by nets in big and deep rivers, by indiscriminate killing of fishes and other aquatic lives through poisoning by various methods like blasting, applying bleaching powder, copper sulphate, poisonous creepers and other plants, applying Lime in large quantities and by other destructive methods. So many precious, exotic and delicious fish species and aquatic lives are not only reduced tremendously but too many species are now extinct from our beautiful rivers of Meghalaya.
In earlier years we used to get plentiful varieties of fish from the rivers of Lukha, Myntdu, Myntang, Jadukata, Kynshi, Rilang, Wahblei, Rwiang, Umiam, Umngot, Umngi, Simsang, Ganol, Manda, Jinjiram, Eldek and so on but today the fishes are very much reduced and whatever available are fishes from ponds which are not so tasty and less nutritious.
The state has many rivers and streams which abound in varieties of fish and other aquatic lives called by different names in different geographical regions of the state. These fishes and aquatic lives are of different types and species most of which are also exotic good source of food and rich in proteins. I can not name all these rivers and streams here for want of space and I do not have all their names however, here I want to mention only the most important ones. The prominent rivers of Jaintia Hills are the Lukha, the Myntdu, the Amjngur, the Umiurem and the Myntang : in Khasi Hills the prominent rivers are the Umngot, Umiam, Umdiengkain, Khasi Mara, Jadkain, Umtrew, Umngi, Rilang, Kynshi, Rwiang, Wahblei, Riangdo, Ryndi, Riangdo, Umshiak and Wahkhri: in Garo Hills the famous rivers are Simsang, Ganol, Jinjiram, Eldek, Manda, Chibok, Rongdik, Ringsa, Chibe, Ringgi, Rongku and Bandra.
The fish sanctuaries as declared by the Fishery Department of Meghalaya are river Umlew in Ri Bhoi: In West Khasi Hills the rivers are Jira in Siminaguri, Kynshi at Nongkhnum, Umshiak at Nongpdeng, Riangdo in Pormawlai, Riangdi at Nongshram, Kynshi at Umthied, Riangdo at Nongwardro : In South West Khasi Hills the rivers are Rilang at Rohbah, Phodlongon at Mawiawmah, Tynhiang at Pdemtynniaw.
In South Garo Hills the rivers are Rangsakona at Rangsa A’We, Rongdik at Eman Warima, Rongdik Emangre at Eman Dokru A’We, Rongdik Aruwagre at Juwa Wari, Chibe Nengkong at Chibe Nengkong, Rongku Bolkongpara at Bolkolpara, Simsang at Wachi Wari, Ganol at Mandal Wari, Ganol at Rongram, Ringgi at Dadenggre, Bandra at Gambegre : The rivers in North Garo Hills are Keralgram at Keralgram, Aruare at Aruare, Rongre at Rongre, Ieldek at Tangba, Rari Rangsopgre at Rangsopgre : In East Garo Hills the rivers are at Chibok Nengmandelgre, at Chibok Chachalgre, Chibok Rapdigre, Simsang Rongsapgre, Simsang Songmagre, Simsang Warimagre, Simsang Bansangre, Simsang Rongreng Baiza and Rongbing Kusimkolgre.
In East Khasi Hills the rivers declared as fish sanctuaries are rivers Umiew at Umiew, Wah Madan Tyrkhang at Tyrkhang, Wah Synrem at Mawpran, Weilynter at Nongpiur, Umlyngka river at Umlyngka, Umtangphar at Mawkynrew, Weinuir at Umsawwar, Wahumtyrkhang at Lyngkhoi, Wahmawsadang at Mawsadang, Wah Umlangmar at Mawspong, Wah Umdiengkain at Lawbah, Wah Khasi Mara at Thyllaw, Wah Tyrsad at Tyrsad, Wah Jadkain at Diengpasoh. In West Jaintia Hills the rivers are Myntdu Syntu Ksiar, Myntang Wahiajer, Mynrud at Madan Mynrud, Umngot Chere at Shnongpdeng, Umsohkhri at Khonglah, Amjngur at Nongtalang, Amtngui at Nongbareh, Amiurem at Khliehmushut, Myntang at Elaka Mynso, Amkshar at Kudeng Thymmai, Amkahoh at Sohkha Mission, Thwai Sajri at Mustem, Umsalait at Umsalait, Umlamar at Kudengrim and in East Jaintia Hills the only declared fish sanctuaries are river Stain at Tuber Kmaichnong and Myntdu river at Chamcham.