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Posted at: Aug 4, 2018, 12:58 AM; last updated: Aug 4, 2018, 12:58 AM (IST)

Thousands of fish found dead in Swan river

Residents say effluents from units caused deaths | Punjab, HP authorities play blame game
Thousands of fish found dead in Swan river
Dead fish could be seen along 10 to 12 km stretch from Santokhgarh in Himachal to the point where the river merges with the Sutlej in Punjab. Tribune photo

Lalit Mohan

Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, August 3

Locals woke up to see thousands of dead fish floating on the surface of the Swan river on the Punjab-Himachal border on Friday.

Ram Kumar, a resident of Algran village on the Punjab-Himachal border, said the dead fish could be seen along 10 to 12 km stretch from Santokhgarh in Himachal to the point where the river merges with the Sutlej in Punjab. Some villagers also noticed change in the colour of river water. After the alarm was raised by the villagers, a team of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) reached the area and collected water samples.

Jatin Joshi, SDO, PPCB, said since there were no industrial units on the Punjab side on the banks of the river, effluents released from the units in Himachal might have led to the death of the fish.

“We will test the water samples and send the report to the Himachal Pradesh Pollution Control Board (HPPCB),” he said. The HPPCB authorities, on the other hand, denied having known about the incident.

SK Dhiman, Executive Engineer, HPPCB, initially declined any report regarding the dead fish, but later said he had visited the area and did not find any evidence of the fish dying due to effluents. “It seems that the fish may have been killed due to some effluents released into the river from the Punjab side. In case, any evidence regarding pollutants being released by the units in Himachal is forwarded by the PPCB, the matter will be investigated,” he said.

There are two major industrial areas in Himachal, from where waste is released into the Swan river. These are in Tahliwal and Mehatpur. The HPPCB authorities maintained that they kept constant vigil on the effluents being released by the units in Himachal.

The Executive Engineer said there was just one red category industrial unit in Himachal near the Punjab border — Rangar Brewery— which no longer released waste into the river. “The brewery has installed a plant where its residue is converted into cattle feed,” he said.

The HPPCB authorities had recently released a report in which it was alleged that Punjab-based chemical factory PACL had damaged the underground water in some villages in the state. The PACL authorities had, however, denied the charge. The Swan river originates in the Dhalutpur area of Una district. After flowing for about 70 km in Una district, it enters Punjab at Anandpur Sahib and merges with the Sutlej.

Himachal unit behind deaths: Ropar SDO

Nangal: Two months after a large number of fish died due to molasses spill into the Beas, the Swan river incident has sent alarm bells ringing. Locals alleged that it was not for the first time that they had seen effluents in the water. PPCB sub-sivisional officer Jatin Joshi said the exact reason behind the deaths could not be ascertained yet. Ropar Drainage Department SDO Narender Pal Singh said on the Punjab side, there was no such unit which could contaminate the water. The fish might have died due to the effluents released by some factory set up near the river, he added. — Arun Sharma


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