Effluents in river killing aquatic creatures

Activists warn of protest if dist admin fails to stop pollution of River Phalguni

People residing on the banks of River Phalguni, especially near Maravoor, Kenjar and Jokatte areas, have been affected by the contamination of water due to the release of industrial effluents.

The water pollution has proven disastrous for aquatic creatures. Member of the Rastriya Parisara Samrakshana Okkoota have, meanwhile, warned the district administration of staging a protest by setting up tents in front of the deputy commissioner’s office and dwelling there, if no action is initiated against the wrongdoers within 24 hours.

Dead creatures including fish and crabs have been found floating the last three days in the Phalguni River and the stench emanating from the water full of dead creatures has spread in the area. Although the whereabouts of the contaminating agents are yet to be known, the industry effluents are visible as the water on one side of the Malavoor dam has turned black in colour.

Titus D’Souza, a resident of Padushedde Kudru near the Malavoor dam, said that the water has turned black over the last one week and this kind of incident has taken place for the first time in the last 54 years. “Fish like ‘Mudavu’, ‘Irpe’ and ‘Periyolu’ and also crabs have died in large numbers. Houses dwelling near the dam have been finding it difficult to bear the stench. Although the matter has been informed to Moodushedde Gram Panchayat, the officers and elected representatives have continued to ignore the problem,” he said.

Staff from the Karnataka State Pollution Board Control have collected samples of the polluted water for analysis. Shashidhar Shetty, the Rastriya Parisara Samrakshana Okkoota secretary, said that the effluents are released by the nearby industries into the open drain which joins the Phalguni River, on which the dam has been constructed near Malavoor. As a result, the groundwater in the area has also been contaminated. This is evident with the fact that the water in the wells in the nearby houses has been spoiled, he complained.

Illegal sand mining
Amir, Reginald, Elvita and Clavy, residents of Lower Kenjar, Thokur and Maravoor, said many families in the villages were dependent on the river water. “But, now, the water is not potable. Illegal sand mining, which is being carried out excessively in the area, has resulted in increase in salinity of the water over the last one year. Along a stretch of one kilometre, from Maravoor to Jokatte, 27 sand mining licences have been issued and sand extraction is being carried out during the night as well. The Jokatte Gram Panchayat has been supplying water through tankers. However, the quantity is insufficient. Water in the wells has also turned salty,” they said.

The contamination of water due to industrial effluents has aggravated the problem. Two cattle belonging to Prakash Shetty have died after drinking the polluted water.

Shashidar Shetty said that the Kandla or the mangrove on the island between the river, has gone dry due to illegal sand mining. “The district administration and the district in-charge minister are directly responsible for the incident of water contamination. If no action is initiated within 24 hours, the local residents will put up tents in front of the deputy commissioner’s office as a mark of protest,” he warned. The residents also took out a candle-light march under the banner “Save Mother Nature, Save Water” later in the evening.
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