Thousands Of Trout Fish Found Dead In Bandipora

Thousands Of Trout Fish Found Dead In Bandipora

25 December 2012
Rising Kashmir
Sheikh Saleem

Srinagar: In what appears to be one of the first major ecological fallout of Kishen Ganga hydroelectric power project, thousands of trout fish were found dead in a stream in North Kashmir’s Bandipora district on Monday. J&K Fisheries Department has put the blame on Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) which is undertaking the construction of the tunnel of Kishen Ganga project. Residents of Sonarwani village said the children of village found hundreds of dead trout fish floating on the surface of Madhumati stream on Monday. “The villagers rushed to the stream and collected trout fish,” said Zahoor Ahmad Shah a local resident. Madhumati Stream in Bandipora is one the largest streams in the valley with large trout fish reserves. Though the fisheries department looked to downplay the development initially but on Tuesday a fact-finding team was rushed to the area to review the situation. The team was headed by Joint Director Fisheries. “We have sent a team to assess the loss,” said Minister of State for Fisheries, Aijaz Ahmad Khan. “We are accessing the facts and matter. The water is coming from the tunnel of the project,” said Joint Director Fisheries, Muhammad Muzaffer. He said though HCC has constructed a sedimentation tank to maintain the turbidity of the tank, it is not functioning. “There are rapid changes taken place in the water. It has increased the mortality rate of the fish.” An official of the visiting team said they were told that the mortality rate has increased three times from the last three years due to the discharge of turbid water being discharged by HCC. Meanwhile, environmental experts have expressed concern over the “ecological disaster”. “The flow of polluted water is destroying the natural habitat of the trout and has serious implications on the environment,” said Sareer Mubashir, who runs an NGO for environment protection in Bandipora. “The trout species is at verge of extinction as the dust from tunnel and residue from crusher units directly slides into the stream,” he said. The water ultimately flows down to Wular Lake which serves as one of the largest reserves of fresh water fish in the region. The villagers also suspect nexus between the agency operating the Crusher Units and the officials. Earlier this year a test conducted by National Institute of Technology (NIT) had revealed that the pollution in the water had created chemical disturbances flowing near the project. Its alkalinity had increased. ”The polluted water can neither be used for human consumption nor for washing purposes,” the report said.