Hundreds of fish found dead in Sarsa

BADDI: Hundreds of fish have found dead in Sarsa river near Baddi today. The dead fish were seen floating on river surface in morning believed to be killed by the alleged discharge of toxic effluents and pesticides in river by some industrial units. The untreated water has discharged through the Sandouli nallah that meets Sarsa River between Malpur and Kainduwala villages.

It was second time in four months this year that the water creatures in Sarsa faced mortality on such large scale. Earlier in June month the hundred of fish were found dead along the both banks of river up to the distance of 23-km from Baddi to Punjab border.

The people rushed to river to get the prize scalps as fish were found lying dead in riverside and shrubs. It is learnt that majority of dead fish have washed away in river current hastened by rain to Sutlej. The Sarsa meets Sutlej near the Ropar Thermal plant.

As per information available the fish usually entered Sarsa River water from Sutlej after rain lashed the upstream hill area. It was also reportedly fine opportunity for Baddi based units to discharge their untreated water through drains and nullhas to Sarsa. Sarsa has left little water creatures thanks to repeated flowing of untreated water and highly toxic wastage by units.

The very few pesticides units have their own water treatment plants. While majority of pesticides units kept untreated water as storage. The units used to flow down the untreated water in Sarsa whenever rain occurred during night. This practice was going on unabated since long despite the clear order of Pollution Control Board (PCB) to discharge only the treated water in river.

In the past on many occasions the fishes have found dead in Sarsa. The local Pollution Board office seemed to be ill-equipped to check the flowing of dangerous waste in river. Interestingly the pesticide limit of over 1 PPM (parts per million) in water was dangerous for any water creatures but Sarsa water seemed to be polluted far from the permissible limit.

After June incidents the department had rolled many heads within department besides ordering power disconnection of 8 faulty units and warning notices to 122 units. The number of reports was made as measures to check the happening in future again.

Meanwhile the team led by Mr. Brij Bhushan, Executive Engineer, PCB Baddi visited Sarsa. The team took water samples of river and nullah as well as the dead fish to ascertain the presence of toxic substances and pesticides. Mr. Bhushan told The Tribune that the fishes seemed to be died due to pesticides in water. There were some big units of spinning and paper mills and pharma upstream the Sandouli nallah, he remarked. The water samples have been sent to department’s laboratory at Parwanoo. However the fish samples would be sent to Dr. Y.S. Parmar University of Forestry and Horticulture to find out the pesticide contents in them, he said.

We were also collecting samples of waste water of suspecting units, he maintained. The pesticides found in fish would be matched with units sample to trace the culprit, he pointed out.

On the other hand the locally based Him Parivesh pollution Protection Organization has warned to take legal course against defaulting units. Mr. Bal Krishan Sharma, General Secretary of Organization said that soon we would launch drive to identify such defaulting units.

However the industrial fraternity here has enraged over the allegation on units to flow down the waste in Sarsa River. The HP Council of CII has expressed surprise over the allegation on industry. Every industry in the belt has installed water or wastage treatment plant. Moreover no NOC was granted by Pollution Control Board (PCB) without confirming about such treatment plant. How could an industrial unit working for 365 days in a year gain anything by releasing untreated water for one day in a year, questioned CII .

“There was no logic in belief that the untreated water was accumulated and released only on the first day of the rain. The cost of accumulating untreated water for a year would cost much more than treating it in routine, he remarked. Industry has always offered for thorough investigation on the issue to find out the truth. It was totally illogical to imagine that the pollution level in river has gone high during a single day and remained under control other days.”

“Industry was, however, concerned about the deteriorating conditions of cleanliness because of alarming increase in civic waste in this area. The belt has no proper treatment as well as disposal management. Moreover the belt also lacked sewage lines as well as public toilet despite having floating population of 3 to 4 lacs daily.”

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