For the second time in the last 45 days, hundreds of fish were found dead in Bhogavati river, a major tributary of Panchganga. Soon after getting the news, the officials of Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) rushed to the spot situated in Haladi, 10 km from here, on Friday morning and collected water and fish samples. On December 22 last year, a similar incident took place in the river, but the water samples collected at that time were found normal. The incidents suggest that local sugar factories or industries are dumping untreated waste water into the river during the wee hours. Since the weirs situated in the upstream release water regularly for irrigation purpose, it automatically flushes out contamination. Hence, water samples collected after 7-8 hours are often found to be normal.
There are three major sugar factories in the vicinity of Bhogavati and the MPCB is collecting information whether contamination originates from these factories. Environmental activists also visited the site and talked to the people living in the surrounding villages such as Kandgaon, Kurdu, Kothali, Kurukali, Dewale and Parite. According to primary information collected by environmental experts, three tractors released water in the privately held farm fields in Haladi. “There are reports that these tractors were called by the local farmers, who believe that the water contains some chemicals which could break a stone. These farms have murum stones underneath. The water must be contaminated and percolated to Bhogavati causing the death of fish,” said Uday Gaikwad, environmentalist and member of district environment monitoring committee.
MPCB officials said they have collected water and fish samples, which will be submitted to the government-owned laboratories for further investigation. “The collected water samples will be sent to MPCB’s laboratory in Chiplun, while the fish samples will be tested at the Mumbai-based forensic laboratory. At present, we won’t be able to tell the cause of water pollution. There are factories in the nearby areas and we are checking whether they behind the death of fish,” said S S Doke, regional officer of MPCB. He added that water samples collected on December 22 were normal. “We have just received the report from our laboratory. We are studying it; however, prima facie the water samples are normal. This could be because the contaminated water is flushed out,” Doke said.
Haladi has a population of around 5,000 and is situated on Kolhapur-Gargoti road. The sugar factories nearby have distillery units which could produce harmful effluents. City’s water supply unaffected: The officials of the water supply department in the civic body said that the incident will not affect the city’s water supply. For Kolhapur, the KMC lifts drinking water from Shingnapur weir. Once water is released from Haladi weir, it directly comes to Shingnapur. “We are taking precaution since the last such incident. Usually, we start extra monitoring of the water quality. As of now, the quality is normal and it is not necessary to interrupt supply,” said a KMC official. More