Toxicity of river blamed for fish death

By Our Reporter

 SHILLONG: The preliminary report conducted by the Mining and Geology department has ruled out that uranium exploration is the cause of the mysterious death of thousand of fishes along Ranikor River.

The preliminary report has in fact blamed that the mass death of fish to the toxicity of the river where local people use toxic substances for catching fish for commercial purposes.

The preliminary report revealed that water flowing from the Rilang river was crystal clear whereas water flowing from Kynshi was muddy, reddish-brown with lot of impurities and the dead fish were found floating on water coming from Kynshi river and not from Rilang.

Revealing the preliminary report submitted by Assistant Geologists (KB Surong and Ms E Nongbri) who conducted investigations on the Kynshi and Rilang Rivers (the two tributaries of Ranikor River), on the cause of the death of the fish, Deputy Chief Minister in charge, Mining and Geology said the two geologists who visited the site on April 17 have ruled out, “the possibility of fish dying due to uranium exploration around the area.”

Stating that the place where the firm (Maheshwari & Maheshwari Mining Pvt Ltd) which was the task of exploratory mining by the Atomic Energy Department (AED) is located on the opposite side of the Kynshi River. Lanong said that the geologists found a small stream near the site where uranium is being explored which leads to the river.

But the two geologists noticed that the dead fish have no lesion marks on their body, Lanong said, “If the cause of death is due to radiation from uranium then the dead fish should have lesion marks on their body,”.

The Deputy Chief Minister said that the preliminary report also mentioned that the death of fish occurred in Kynshi river as the water is highly contaminated and the contamination is due to the presence of a number of tributaries flowing from places having coal mines, coal depot from villages like Maweit, Diengngan, Mawhar, Nongjri and others.

He said the two geologists posed an interesting question in their report. They argued that if the death of the fish is due to coal mining then this should be a regular phenomenon and not a one-off epidemic.

“The impact should not be only on April 12 where a large number of fish died along the river,” Lanong said while quoting the geologists.

“According to reports, the fishes appeared to have died due to toxicity where local people throw toxic substances into the river for catching fish for commercial purposes,” the Deputy Chief Minister said.

Meanwhile, Lanong also said that the preliminary report suggested that there be a detailed investigation like analysis of the water and post mortem of the fish.

Lanong further said that the geologists have suggested the need for a detailed investigation to ascertain the main cause of river poisoning by analyzing the water, and post mortem of the dead fish besides other necessary examinations by using proper and well equipped laboratories to get to the root cause of the death of fish in Ranikor.

The Deputy Chief Minister also informed that the deputy commissioner of West Khasi Hills S Kharlyngdoh has submitted the report of the investigation conducted on April 14 by the extra assistant commissioner from Mawkyrwat civil sub division and BDO of Ranikor block along with a fisheries officer based at Mawkyrwat.

Lanong said that the report mentions that there was no fresh death of fishes.

Meanwhile, PHE Minister Shitlang Pale said that such an incident of fishes dying in the rivers of the state is happening for the first time and so it has to be ascertained as to what is the real reason behind the same.

When his attention was drawn to recent incidents of fish dying in Jaintia Hills, Pale said “I am yet to receive any report from the MSPCB in this context.”