KOCHI: The mass fish kill in Muttar river has brought the issue of pollution in the Periyar River and its tributaries once again in focus along with unending debates over the possible causes behind the issue.
A study report by Dr Bijoy Nandan S, Associate Professor of Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT), also blamed the accumulation of pollutants in the water and river bed for the frequent incidences of mass fish kill in the Periyar. The study report, presented at a state-level workshop on Periyar River pollution this August, showed that water and the riverbed soil in the Periyar in the Eloor-Edayar area have become heavily polluted. The level of dissolved oxygen in the water is very low and the riverbed has turned into a dead zone with accumulation of huge toxic sludge balls. Dr Nandan had listed 10 major mass fish kills in the area since 1976.
Purushan Eloor, an environmentalist, has countered the claim saying that there were nearly 800 fish deaths from 1972 to 2014 in the region. The environmentalists are quick to blame the fish kill to industrial pollution in the area and are critical of the Bijoy Nandan report for not specifically linking industrial effluents to the mass fish kill. There had been frequent reports of discolouration of the river water in the Eloor-Edayar industrial belt in the past few months raising alarm among the locals. “Despite frequent excessive discharge of chemical effluents into the river, the authorities remain indifferent. Thousands of people depend on the river for drinking water and agriculture,” said Dr G D Martin of Janajagrata, Eloor.
The mass fish kill at Muttar took place close to the pumping station that supply drinking water to the entire Eloor area, he added.