Pune: The Centre’s ambitious river cleaning project needs to be implemented seriously as yet again, thousands of fish have been found dead in the Indrayani river at Gopalpura, Dehu, on June 9 and 10.
Apparently, a similar incident was reported from Pavana river near Thergaon Boat Club in May. Meanwhile, activists pointed the finger towards the absence of Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) because of which, the sewage water was directly released in the river.
Mahesh Mahajan, Founder President of Friends Of Nature, an NGO based in Talegaon, , said, “On June 9 and 10, around seven thousand fishes were found dead in the Indrayani river. Among the dead fish, 90 per cent of them were mrigal carp and few other fish like Rohu, Catla, Chilapi and Mahseer. We are sure the fish died due to untreated sewage water that was released into the river directly.”
Indrayani originates in the Western Ghats near Lonavla and passes through Kamshet, Talegaon, Dehu, Pimpri, Chinchwad and Alandi and later meets Bhima river.
In May, over one lakh Chilapi fish were found dead in Pavana river because of the agriculture and sewage water getting mixed with the river water.
When Sakal Times wanted to know the reason behind these incidences, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) Regional Officer Dilip Khedekar said, “These incidences always occur during the summer season. Because of heat and evaporation, the oxygen level decreases, moreover the untreated sewage water released in the river kills the fish.”
“Dehu does not have a STP yet and daily 10,000 litres of untreated sewage water is released into the river directly. We have taken the samples of water and fish and have sent it to the laboratory. The Pavana river’s dead fish report is also yet to be received,” Khedekar added.
Former sarpanch and member of Dehu Gram Panchayat Santosh Hagawane stated that the fish died because of untreated sewage water released into the river. He said, “The 3 MLD STP plant will start next month and will treat the sewage water released from domestic use and nalas.”
A sectional engineer at Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran, which is constructing the STP, said, “The STP has been built at the border of Talegaon and Dehu and it is situated one km away from the Indrayani river bank. The project is of Rs 31 crore. By July-end, the STP will be fully operational and it will treat the sewage in its full capacity. There are around 6,000 homes in Dehu and 99 per cent of these houses have been connected to the STP along with the nalas.”
Efforts to restore fishes go in vain
Mahajan also mentioned that in 1982, the Mahaseer fish went extinct as a chemical solution was mixed into the Indrayani river water. The Government of India declared Mahaseer as endangered species. We then restored the fish and released 39,000 fish in 2009, 2010 and 2011 into the river.
On May 30, 2019, 19 sheep had allegedly died in Chikhali after drinking water from Indrayani river. Baban Tambe, who raises goats and sheep for a livelihood, had taken animals to the Indrayani riverbed at Sonawane Basti for grazing. He claimed that after drinking water from the river, animals started feeling uneasy and around noon on the same day their stomach bloated, following which they died.
The MPCB officials then said that they cannot attribute the death of animals directly to the river water as they drink water from multiple places.