Molasses ‘spill’ in Beas kills fish

Amritsar, May 18: Tonnes of fish were found dead or squirming on the shore of the Beas apparently due to some “poisonous” chemical getting mixed in the water body on Thursday morning.

However, officials maintained that these deaths appeared to have been caused due to low oxygen level in water as no poisonous substance was found.

The dead fish have been taken by the Wildlife Department for conducting a post-mortem examination. It has been learnt that noxious molasses got leaked from a tank belonging to a nearby distillery at Kiri Afghana on late Wednesday night.

However, the matter came to light early morning when residents of the nearby areas spotted palpitating fish on the shore of the Beas.

Reports also emerged that scores of fish were also carried away by residents in sacks and also transported through trucks.It is feared that the dead fish may have reached the market for sale.

The administration has issued a advisory to people not to consume fish or allow cattle to drink the riverwater. A battery of officials, including Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, KS Sangha, SDM, Baba Bakala, Rawinder Singh Arora, and teams of Wildlife and Forest departments and Pollution Control Board reached the spot.

District Forest Officer Rajesh Gulati said a portion of the water stream had turned black and fish in huge quantity were writhing on the surface.“Some big fish were between 30-50 kg and there were smaller ones too,” he said.KS Sangha confirmed that there was leakage of molasses from the tank of the distillery located nearby.

“It was fatal for fish only. Dolphins and gharials are presumed to be safe. Though, it was just a rumour that dead fish were transported by people to markets early morning, an advisory has been issued to people not to eat fish,” he said.

Punjab Pollution Control Board Chairman KS Pannu said the distillery was sealed immediately and all precautionary measures were taken.“Fortunately, the molasses were found to be more of organic in nature with negligible toxic elements in it.

Yet, it proved to be dangerous for the fish as the oxygen level decreased. All operations at the distillery have been put to a halt till the situation gets cleared,” he said.

Pannu said extra water had been released from the Pong Dam and Ranjit Sagar Dam to flush out the affected water and avoid further damage to the water species.

Source Tribune India

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