Mass fish death in Periyar river sparks protests in Kochi


PTI, May 22, 2024, 3:10 PM IST

dead fish found floating in the Periyar river (credit: PTI)

Kochi: Thousands of dead fish were found floating in the Periyar river, sparking protests from local farmers and residents here on Wednesday.

They claim that illegal discharge of chemical waste from nearby factories was to blame for the incident.

Local fish farmers, particularly those involved in cage farming, reported significant losses amounting to several lakhs due to the mass fish deaths.

The dead fish were found in large numbers in fish farms across panchayats such as Varapuzha, Kadamakkudy, and Cheranalloor near here since Tuesday.

The widespread protests prompted the district administration to take action.

District Collector N S K Umesh has ordered the state Pollution Control Board to urgently investigate the cause of the fish deaths, according to official sources.

The government also formed a special committee under the aegis of Fort Kochi Sub-Collector to study the developments and submit a report in this regard within a week, they said.

Pollution Control Board officials have already collected samples of water and dead fish from the incident site and sent them to the laboratory of the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies here for a detailed examination.

As per the preliminary assumption by the board officials, fish might have died en masse due to a sudden and significant decrease in the oxygen level in the water.

As it is an industrial area, the District Collector also entrusted the environmental engineer of the Pollution Control Board to report whether the mass fish death had happened as a result of chemical effluents being discharged into the river.

CCTV visuals should be examined, and stringent action should be taken against such establishments, if any, at the earliest, the Collector has said.

State Industries Minister P Rajeeve said on Wednesday that all necessary steps have been taken in this regard to address the concerns of local people.

“A committee has been formed to study this, and it has been instructed to submit a detailed report. The water samples were collected and sent to the KUFOS lab for examination,” he told reporters here.

It would be revealed during the examination whether the decreasing level of oxygen or the discharge of effluents was the reason for the mass death of fish, he added.

Meanwhile, the local Pollution Control Board office at Eloor here on Wednesday witnessed huge protests by fish farmers, local people, environmental activists and Congress workers.

The protesters put dead fish in front of the office and raised slogans against the board officials, alleging they were not taking stringent measures against the factories that allegedly discharge chemical effluents into the River Periyar.

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