- Fish died after molasses from a sugar factory leaked into the Beas River
- PPCB sealed the sugar mill and imposed a fine of Rs 5 crore
- To prevent further death of fish, authorities released fresh water from dam
New Delhi: In a shocking environmental disaster, countless fish and other aquatic animals were found dead in Punjab’s Beas River on May 17 after molasses (a byproduct in sugarcane processing) from a sugar factory leaked into the river. The leakage not just took life of 8 to 10 varieties of fish, including Cat Fish and Common Carp among others, but also affected the entire ecosystem of the Beas River. And, it would take years for the ecosystem to recover as the leakage has caused a massive damage to the aquatic life, according to Punjab Chief Wildlife Warden, Kuldip Kumar.
Also Read: Why Are Fish Dying In Punjab’s Beas River?
It is not that ecosystem in river will get restored in a few months with the kind of catastrophe we have witnessed. It is going to take a few years, said Mr Kumar.
Concerned about the pollution of Beas waters and resultant death of marine life, Punjab’s Chief Minister Amarinder Singh warned against any laxity or leniency while probing the molasses leakage incident in Punjab’s Beas town, and directed the concerned agencies to vigorously pursue legal and penal action against the offenders. The Chief Minister also sought a detailed report from the Environment Department on the inquiry initiated into the incident, which had damaged Beas river’s aquatic life and disturbed the canal-based water supply in the southern districts of Faridkot, Muktsar and Fazilka.
Seeking an action against the sugar mill owner for the leakage, the state’s Wildlife Department has already filed a petition in the Batala Court under the relevant provisions of the Wildlife Act. The Wildlife Department is also monitoring the long term effect on the behaviour of Indus dolphins, which were sighted in the river on May 19, two days after the molasses leakage incident. Meanwhile, the Punjab Pollution Control Board and the Amritsar district administration have already sealed the Chadha Sugar Mill of Kirri Afgana in Gurdaspur from where the molasses spilled into the river.
A report, showcasing how and why this incident happened, what were the deficiencies and what action proposed to be taken to prevent such incidents in future, of the probe committee led by Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) Chief Engineer G S Majithia has been submitted to the state government for an appropriate action.
Talking about the report, Roshan Sunkaria, Principal Secretary, Department of Science, Technology and Environment, Punjab, said, “The report submitted by PPCB Chief Engineer has been received by the department, and will examine it.” However, he refused to divulge any content of the probe committee report.
While talking to NDTV about the measures being taken by the authority to prevent the further damage to aquatic life, the Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar, Kamaldeep Singh Sangha said
To stabilize the situation, we have been releasing water from the Pathankot’s Ranjit Sagar Dam into the river. This is being done to wash out the pollutants.
Furthermore, the Department of Water Supply and Sanitation is regularly testing the river water quality. And, as a precautionary measure, the water supply agencies have also initiated cleaning of waterworks to preclude any possibility of contaminated water being supplied to the local population.
Following the molasses leakage into the river, the deputy commissioners of the affected districts issued an advisory asking the residents not to eat or sell the dead fish and serve the river water to cattle for drinking, and stop bathing in the river.
The government is working to ensure the proper supply of potable drinking water to people living in Faridkot, Muktsar and Fazilka districts where the water supply was canal based, said one the officials.
Taking a serious note of the Beas ecological disaster, even the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has now constituted a special team which will visit Punjab to look into the causes of the spillage of toxic waste into the river, which not only killed thousands of tonnes of fish but also polluted drinking water supply.
With inputs from PTI