Pune: Fishermen are facing a unique problem due to pollution in Mula, Pawana and Indrayani rivers, which flow through Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. According to them, the population of Chipla fish is increasing while the population of other fish like Rohu, Katla, Mrigal, Maral and Vaam are decreasing. This imbalance in the number of fish has caused severe losses to the fishing community.
Fishermen allege that untreated water and industrial water, which flow into these rivers pollute the water, adversly impacting the river ecosystem. Interestingly, Chipla fish does not allow other fish to survive in the river. Sandeep Kachi, a fisherman at Kachi vasti, Sangamwadi, said, “We are the fifth generation of fishermen and for last five years, fish like Rohu, Katla, Mrigal and Maral have decreased considerably. Similarly, the number of Shakar fish too is increasing, but this does not earn good money for us. We fish only 30 to 40 kg of Chipla or Shakar, and earn around Rs 8,000 to 10,000 only, as the polluted water has created this imbalance.”
Sunil Dimbar, a fisherman from Chikli, said, “As the chemical water from nearby industries flows into Indrayani river, the water changes its colour to red and causes various skin diseases. As the population has increased, the water pollution and demand for fish too, has increased. But now, only Chipla fish are seen here, while all the other fish have become rare. In a day, we fish only 20-30 kg of Chipla, which is sold for Rs 50. Big fish like Katla and Rohu, which roughly weigh 10-15 kg, have disappeared from the river since the last five years.”
Ganesh Bora of Pawna Boat Club said, “Despite several complaints to the civic authorities about the issue, we have not got any reply. With no fish in the river, the number of migratory birds too has gone down. Besides that, the hyacinth has further depleted oxygen levels in the river.
Speaking on this issue, Jagannath Salunkhe, regional officer of Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), said, “We are just a law-enforcing body and we have already lodged cases against Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) on STP and Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) on Water Act, in 2016, in the National Green Tribunal Court (NGT).
Sanjay Kulkarni, Head of Environment Department, PCMC, refused to comment on the issue, saying that they discharge treated water into these rivers. When asked about the cases against the municipal body in NGT court, he curtly replied they are confidential and cannot be discussed with the media.
The STP Head of PMC, Shrinivas Kandul, said, "Both the corporations will be submitting the STP plan to NGT on January 8. The plan includes cleaning of nalas, treating domestic waste and river cleaning projects. After submitting the plan to NGT, it will take more than five months for the process to begin.”
Sarang Yadwadkar, a social activist, explained that this is not the first time that the civic authorities have been blamed for discharging untreated water. MPCB too should not wait untill the water condition deteriorates. If they could have taken action on time, this problem would not have had happened.