NEW DELHI: A huge number of fishes have mysteriously died in the upstream stretch of the Najafgarh drain on the Delhi-Haryana border over the past one week, officials said on Monday. The government officials rushed to the spot to ascertain the cause behind the incident and discussed ways to prevent further damage to aquatic life in the drain.
According to the forest officials, the number of dead fish could go up to lakhs. “Clusters of dead fishes were spotted floating on both sides of the Najafgarh drain, which has a rich aquatic life. The numbers could be between thousand and a few lakhs. The deaths seemed to have occurred over the last week. We are yet to investigate the reason behind the deaths,” said a senior official.
He added, “We have informed the Haryana government as well as the Gurgaon administration. Primarily, it appears that the oxygen levels in the stretch were almost zero, due to the high pollution load in the drain. Most of it comes from the factories in Haryana.”
The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and the Irrigation and Flood Control Department (I&FC) have been given the task to find the reason behind the fatalities. While the DPCC took water samples on Sunday, the I&FC took samples on Monday for independent investigations.
“We have taken water samples to ascertain the Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) and the levels of dissolved oxygen,” said a senior DPCC official. Ashish Kundra, principal secretary of I&FC said, “We have taken samples to diagnose what is the reason for the mass deaths. The staff told me that the level of oxygen was zero in that stretch of the drain. Now, what caused it needs to be investigated. It will take 4-5 days for test results to come out.”
Meanwhile, locals from the villages said that the water from the drain also seeps into the johads (ponds) where fishes and snakes were found dead too. Forest officials said the locals were seen carrying boxes full of dead fish to be sold in the open market, which would be a major health hazard for which awareness is necessary. “The fisheries department will be carrying out the autopsy of the dead fish, which have rotten in the water,” said another senior official.
Faiyaz A Khuddar, scientist-in-charge of the Yamuna Biodiversity Park, said that during the monsoon, if there are persistent clouds, oxygen levels in the water, which is anyways too polluted, goes down, which sometimes is the reason for the death of aquatic organisms. “Still this has to be investigated since the number is huge. These are non-native invasive fish soecies- Tilapia Mozambica,” he said.
Govt officials collect water samples
The Delhi Pollution Control Committee and Irrigation and Flood Control Dept have started collecting water samples to know the reason behind the deaths.