Mortality of fish due to an unknown disease in the Sriramsagar Project continues unabated. Death of fish in huge quantities in the project water worried fishermen and authorities. Over 5,000 fishermen families, which are eking out a living from fishing in the reservoir, are gripped by fear of losing livelihood.
Lack of oxygen
Water pollution due to effluents being released by factories upstream the river Godavari in Nanded district of Maharashtra and the blistering heat were primarily seen as reasons for the death of fish, mostly of cutla variety.
Scientists, who arrived from the Institute of Fisheries’ Technology in Kolkata, felt that fish would perish with lack of oxygen with soaring temperatures in summer. They also opined that pollution also could be the reason for the phenomenon.
In the reservoir water level dropped to 9.220 tmcf as of now and it may go down further.
An estimated 200 tonnes, including “bochha” and “rowatta” fish, died in the last 10 days and the occurrence, though slowing down, has not stopped till now.
“I have found fish infected. Their tail turned read with rashes. It could be due to pollution of water. We have sent samples to the laboratory in Kolkata and, after receiving the report, we will sue the companies responsible for the release of effluents into the river. And the fish loss could be to the tune of ₹3 crore,” said Saibaba, chairman of the District Fisheries Cooperative Society.
Each dead fish weighed between 2 gram and 22 kg. Shores of the river are dotted with dead fish, giving unbearable stench. Fishermen feel that negligence of the authorities in seeing the impending danger led to the destruction.
“This is the season for us. Seedlings dropped into the reservoir in August have come to harvest. Every one of us used to catch 1 kg to 30 kg of fish ever day. We may not have livelihood in coming days,” cried a fisherman.
Heaving a sigh of relief over the decrease in mortality, Assistant Director, Fisheries, P. Mahipal, said they were on the job of finding the reasons.
“We sent the water samples and dead fish to the lab and are awaiting the report. Fungal or bacterial diseases often cause death of fish,” he said.