Fish found dead in Beas river af­ter fluid re­lease by Gur­daspur sugar mill

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - - HTPUNJAB - Sur­jit Singh


AM­RIT­SAR: A large num­ber of fish and other aquatic an­i­mals were found dead in Beas river on Thurs­day due to wa­ter con­tam­i­na­tion re­port­edly caused by re­lease of a chem­i­cal fluid from a sugar mill si­t­u­ated on the shore of the river.

The fluid came from ‘Chadha Sugar In­dus­tries Pri­vate Lim­ited’ that is lo­cated at Kiri Af­gana vil­lage near Sri Har­gob­ind­pur in Gur­daspur dis­trict. How­ever, the ad­min­is­tra­tion claimed it was an ac­ci­den­tal re­lease of the fluid.

The peo­ple who live or work along the river no­ticed that the colour of the river wa­ter turned dark red in the morn­ing and dead fish floated on it, es­pe­cially in Am­rit­sar, Tarn Taran and Ka­purthala dis­tricts. Hun­dreds of dead fish were found on the bank of the river.

Am­rit­sar deputy com­mis­sioner Kamaldeep Singh Sangha, who rushed to the river bank along with for­est and wildlife depart­ment of­fi­cials, said, “There was a blast in the boiler of sugar mill when they were pre­par­ing mo­lasses in it. It re­sulted into leak­age of fluid into the river wa­ter. The fluid led to in­crease of bi­o­log­i­cal oxy­gen de­mand (BOD) in the wa­ter, re­sult­ing into fall of oxy­gen con­tent. This caused the death of fish and other wa­ter an­i­mals.” Mo­lasses or black trea­cle is a vis­cous prod­uct re­sult­ing from re­fin­ing sug­ar­cane into sugar. The DC said mea­sures are be­ing taken to pre­vent fur­ther death of fish. Ex­perts col­lected wa­ter sam­ples for ex­am­i­na­tion.

Mean­while, ed­u­ca­tion and en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter OP Soni or­dered an in­quiry into the mat­ter. The min­is­ter, who vis­ited the bank of the river at Beas town along with Am­rit­sar MP Gur­jeet Singh Au­jla, also or­dered that the sugar mill op­er­a­tion be shut im­me­di­ately.

Soni said teams from the wildlife depart­ment and pol­lu­tion con­trol board were called and till now they have found no other tox­ins in wa­ter. Deputy com­mis­sion­ers of the af­fected dis­tricts ap­pealed to peo­ple to shun bathing, eat­ing fish and giv­ing river wa­ter to cat­tle for drink­ing till the wa­ter is not cleaned.

Mean­while, noted en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivist Bal­bir Singh Seechewal said re­lease of any chem­i­cal fluid into the river wa­ter is vi­o­la­tion of the Wa­ter Act, 1974, and chem­i­cal sub­stances put the an­i­mal life on high risk. He said CM Capt Amarinder Singh should in­ter­vene.


Mill man­ager Mu­n­ish Pal, when con­tacted, said it was ac­ci­dent. “Ba­si­cally, it was spon­ta­neous re­ac­tion. We tried our best to bring this re­ac­tion un­der con­trol, but failed. The sera does not con­tain any harm­ful el­e­ment; it is used to pre­pare eat­a­bles. I don’t know how the fish died.”


Dead fish on the banks of the Beas near Am­rit­sar on Thurs­day.

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