Officials say finance dept refuses to provide funding to ANP-govt initiated project
PESHAWAR: Over 1,600 fish in the city’s only aquarium have died since 2009 as a result of apathy and negligence on part of the Directorate of Livestock and Dairy Products.
During Awami National Party’s government, former chief minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti inaugurated Peshawar Aquarium in August 2009, under the fisheries department. Its purpose was to promote the Directorate of Fisheries and provide an educational and recreational facility for the public.
Approximately Rs20 million was used to set up the aquarium, located near Pearl Continental Hotel, for which 60 different kinds of fish were purchased. Much of that investment has gone down the way of dead fish, shared sources at the fisheries department.
Left in the lurch
The commitment with which the three-year project was set-up, however, was never maintained. Even though 22,000 fish from 72 international aquariums were imported, only seven people were appointed to guard and maintain them.
Six years after its inauguration and establishment, over 1,600 fish including American Goldfish, Singaporean fish, Chinese fish, Thailand fish and catfish have died. Only 600 local species—those which are easily available in the market—remain.
Although the aquarium was partially damaged by the blast that took place at Pearl Continental Hotel in 2009, the government is culpable in many other ways for the death of the aquarium.
According to department of livestock personnel, the filtration machine has been out of order since 2014 and most of the aquarium furniture and equipment is faulty and obsolete. The transformer has been out of order since the last two months, restricting the amount of oxygen available to the fish. Even though more oxygen machines had been brought in, consistent load-shedding rendered them useless.
When funds dry up
Fisheries Assistant Director and Peshawar Aquarium In charge Fawad Khan told The Express Tribune after the first three years of the project, no funds were allocated to the aquarium by the present government. “We submitted recommendations to the finance minister but the department refused to provide any monetary assistance,” he said.
“One of the main causes of the death of fish was the lack of oxygen,” said Khan. He added the department lacked the resources and funds to purchase a generator to keep the machines and transformers operational.
Spare some ‘change’?
Khan said about Rs0.6 million was needed to rebuild and revive the aquarium.
ANP Senior Leader Haji Muhammad Adeel expressed sadness at the condition of the aquarium. He said, “Zoos, parks and aquariums are meant to provide recreational spaces to people and it is a pity that people of Peshawar have been deprived of such facilities.”
Aqeel questioned, “The government can spend Rs50 million on providing tablets to teachers but cannot spare Rs0.6 million to restore the aquarium?” He censured the government’s call for “change” and said, “Ending old projects and prioritising new ones did not indicate much change.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2015.