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Dead fish, crabs wash ashore in Palghar

Not shampoo: A week after a tanker filled with chemicals overturned into a canal in Palghar, the Surya river continues to be filled with foam and froth

Not shampoo: A week after a tanker filled with chemicals overturned into a canal in Palghar, the Surya river continues to be filled with foam and froth  

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Villagers prevented from going near river, keep watch to stop animals from consuming polluted water

Nearly a week after a tanker filled with chemical overturned, spilling its contents into a canal in Palghar, the Surya river, which it flows into, continues to be filled with foam and froth as residents report dead fish and crabs washing ashore.

The tanker overturned on the morning of November 9, following an accident on National Highway 8, near the Gaothanpada of Mendhawan village in Palghar.

Residents of the village have been restricted from using the canal water as it is filled with large foam clouds due to the pollution caused by the chemical. Fish and crabs in the canal were seen dead the next morning, which created a feeling of fear amongst villagers.

Sujata Bhonar, a resident and school teacher from Medhawan, said the chemical caused large foam formation in the water, even bigger than single-storey houses, and many fish died following the incident.

“We are using the canal water from before the spot where the chemical was mixed,” Ms. Bhonar said.

The village Sarpanch Bistur Kuhra said, following the accident at around 10.30 a.m. on November 9, villagers informed the Kasa police station, which moved the tanker by 1.30 p.m. “The chemical that had spilt on to the road was later cleaned by a team. They sprayed water on the roads and pushed the chemical into the canal, near the highway,” Mr. Kuhra said.

The next morning, villagers woke up to large foam clouds in the canal. Frightened, they informed the police, who termed it to be shampoo. “Some officials did come to check the water and have taken samples but we have not received any information about the reports,” the sarpanch said.

Mr. Kuhra said Adivasis in the village lived on fishing from the canal.

“We had to instruct every household to not fish in the canal for the next few days. Some people had brought fish from the canal on the same day, and therefore, we asked them to throw it away. We have also put a precaution board near the canal for people to not use the water and volunteers are guarding the canal so that no animal drinks it,” he said.

Many villagers said foam was seen floating in the surrounding area for a whole day. A homemaker from Somta village said villagers used the canal water for household chores and now have to use drinking water for it.

“We have to use the water from wells and borewells, which are meant for drinking. The same water has to be used for our cattle. We cannot risk their lives by letting them drink the polluted water,” she said.

Ramesh Barkhu Punjara, a resident of Somta who works in a ration shop, said the village authorities have not taken the necessary steps to prevent any mishaps.

“In this season, farmers plant crops and need excess water. Now, with the canal water polluted, how will they water their plants?” he asked.

A doctor with Somta Primary Health Centre said as soon as they got to know about the incident, they started taking precautionary steps. “We wrote to the village panchayat to make an announcement about not using the water. Fortunately, no medical case has been registered till now,” Dr. Babul Lalit said.

Keshav Daji Punjara (62), who lives in Barhanpur village, said their area is mostly dependent on canal water as they do not have many wells. “My house is the closest to the canal. On Wednesday, when I went to bathe in it, I saw foam in the water and instructed all my family members not to use the water.”

Barhanpur village Sarpanch Santaram Tumbda said the foam first appeared in Mendhawan, then Somta and Barhanpur. It is gradually flowing downward to the Surya river. “We have told the villagers not to use the water. We do not know if any animal has consumed the canal water as no animals have shown any problems yet. If they have indeed consumed it, the chemical may take time to react.”

Another resident of the village, Pandu Tumbda, said the water of the Surya river is used in Boisar, MIDC and many areas nearby and that the pollution was a matter of concern.

According to a Kasa police station official, a case has been filed against the tanker driver. Officials from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board said tests of water samples are in progress and reports were awaited.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2019 4:06:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/dead-fish-crabs-wash-ashore-in-palghar/article29976417.ece

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