Jalandhar, April 26
In what appears to be gross negligence towards aquatic life and environment in the holy city of Sultanpur Lodhi, thousands of fish died in the Kali Bein coinciding with the celebrations of the much-hyped Baisakhi mela on April 22.
Rajya Sabha MP and environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal has alleged that storing of water to keep the Kanjli Wetland full on the occasion of the mela was one of the causes of their death.
This is the seventh time that the fish had died in the Kali Bein due to polluted water. Earlier, fish died in the Kali Bein in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2021 and 2022 as well.
Officials from the Fisheries Department confirmed that the reduced oxygen level in the Kali Bein water led to the death of the fish.
Stopping of water from the Mukerian Hydel Channel to the Kali Bein was another reason behind the death of the fish.
Ironically, the issue had cropped up within a week of Seechewal himself approaching various Jalandhar bypoll candidates with memorandums demanding to make environment (polluted water bodies, depleting water level and non-functional STPs) an issue in the bypoll.
The videos of Seechewal’s workers wading into the Kali Bein water with tonnes of dead fish floating presents a sorry state of affairs.
Harinderjit Singh Bawa, Assistant Director, Fisheries Department, said, “The stopping of 300 cusecs water from the Mukerian Hydel Channel is the main cause of the death of the fish. Besides, there are many other factors too. A minimum oxygen level of 5 mg per litre is required for fish to sustain in water. Upon checking the Kali Bein water, it was found between 1 mg and 1.2 mg per litre in the affected areas.”
He said, “The water flow was not stopped due to the Baisakhi mela. Sewage from various villages flows into the Kali Bein. Hence, when fresh water flow was stopped, fish died due to choking. The cleaning of drains also leads to water shortage these days. As it is the breeding month, so many small fish have died.”
Seechewal said, “We have been flagging the problem before the Baisakhi mela. During the mela, Mukerian Hydel Channel gates were closed to let water remain in the Kanjli Wetland. This caused an acute shortage of fresh water in the Kali Bein. Days before the mela, my workers reported that fish were coming up to the surface to breathe. I immediately called the DC who asked officials to release water into the Kali Bein. When water was not released after two days, I called him again. During the mela, water was retained in the wetland due to which fish died.”
He said, “The Kali Bein is getting polluted due to dumping of sewage. As STPs are non-functional, untreated waste is released into the Bein. The supply of fresh water is important for the sustenance of the aquatic life.”
Kapurthala Deputy Commissioner Vishesh Sarangal could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.
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