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50 pc fish of Ram Tirath Temple tank die of suffocation
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Ramtirath (Amritsar), April 5
Mystery shrouds the death of more than 50 per cent of the fish in the holy tank of the ancient Ram Tirath temple here during the ‘kar seva’ which has been under way since January 8, despite the stay orders of the Ajnala court.

Ram Tirath Temple is a heritage site where Balmikji scribed the sacred ‘Ramayana’. The temple is also the birth place of Luv and Kush, the sons of Lord Rama.

Several Mahants, who have been fighting a legal battle against the local minister, the Chairman of a state corporation, the Deputy Mayor of the corporation and the district administration, alleged that the fish had died due to “some mischief” played by vested interests. Senior officials of the Fisheries Department claimed that the mortality of the fish seemed to be due to depletion of oxygen in the tank . However, Dr J.S. Bedi and Dr Mohinder Singh, Fisheries Extension Officers, said they had taken water and soil samples of the ‘sarovar’ (holy tank) which were sent for examination to the local agricultural office. To a question, both officials said preliminary investigations had indicted that the fish died because of BOD (biological oxygen demand) as sufficient water had been drained out from the holy tank for undertaking ‘kar seva’. They said the respiratory system of the fish, especially common carp, seemed to have chocked because of the depleted water. Insiders say the fish died when hundreds of ‘kar sewaks’ took a bath in the sarovar after the second phase of the ‘kar seva’ was inaugurated by Dr Raj Kumar, an MLA of the ruling party, yesterday.

Though, the foundation stone for launching the ‘kar seva’ was laid by Mr Sardool Singh Bandala, Excise and Taxation Officer, on behalf of the Chief Minister who had cancelled his visit at the 11th hour on November 18 last year amid a lot of controversy, yet the district administration failed to take precautionary steps to save the fish. Interestingly the other species of fish including rohu, catla and Mrigal which remain on the upper layer of water were not affected like common Carp.

Hundreds of men, children and women blocked the main Amritsar-Ajnala road for more than three hours even as officials of the district administration and police took a long time to reach the site.

Various temples inside the Ram Tirath complex and adjoining shops remained closed for several hours owing to this incident.

Some of the persons buried the dead fish in the adjoining open areas of the temple while many persons were seen taking them in cycle-carts, though the Fisheries Department had warned that dead fish should not be consumed.

Earlier, the state government had proposed establishment of a Shrine Board on the pattern of Mata Vaishno Devi after the visit of Dr Jagmohan, Union Minister for Tourism, on April 4 last year.

A sum of Rs 1 crore has already been received by the district administration to be forwarded to the PWD for the facelift of the temple.

The Rs 2.50 crore facelift plan includes replacement of wornout sandstone in the parikarma at a cost of Rs 72 lakh, illumination (Rs 16 lakh), installation of two deep tubewells for drinking water and filling of holy sarovar (Rs 20 lakh) construction of concrete parking (Rs 29 lakh), construction of 4 toilet blocks (Rs 27 lakh) and improvement of the existing periphery road (Rs 40 lakh).

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