Kochi: The massive death of fish in Muttar river, a tributary of Periyar, on Monday has created panic and concern among local residents and green activists. “This is one of the most calamitous fish deaths in the region in the recent past,” said GD Martin, scientist with Kerala University Fisheries and Ocean Studies. “People noticed the death in the morning and it continued till late evening.” Fishes were seen floating dead in a 10-km stretch, he said.
The amount of pollution might have reached alarming levels as fish that requires least amount of oxygen such as ribbon fish (vala) and similar varieties have surfaced dead in massive numbers. The famed karimeen (pearl spot) are also strewn around the area in massive numbers, Dr Martin said.
The fish death was initially noticed in Thoombunkal Thodu and Muttar canal before it spread to other areas. The death in Thoombunkal Thodu area has created alarm as the area had not reported similar incidents before.
A section of the local residents suspected that pollutants from a shopping mall in the area might have caused the problem. The Muttar canal used to be the drinking water source for the people living in the Kunnumpuram and nearby places in Edappally.
The canal has now become a water body contaminated by chemical toxicants, local residents said, adding they are also worried over the foul smell emanating from the river leading serious health issues. Although people from nearby areas came to see the fish coming up dead most of them preferred not to take them home fearing food poisoning.
Green activists said that this is the seventh incident of fish death in river Periyar this year. Over 50 such incidents were reported from the river last year, they said, and blamed the chemical effluents released from the nearby industrial units as the main reason for it.
Although green activists have brought the issue before the authorities including the officials of the Pollution Control Board several times no action has been initiated against the erring industries.