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Plant effluents kill fish

Paradip, Jan. 27: The State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) has initiated a probe after acidic effluent discharge turned the waterbodies and creeks near a fertiliser plant in Paradip into a burial ground with dead aquatic species and fish.

“Waterbodies and creeks near Atharabanki in Paradip are littered with dead fish and aquatic species. Reported acidic discharge by the Paradip Phosphates Limited (PPL) fertiliser plant is to be blamed. We have found conclusive evidence of effluents release by the plant. Action is being initiated under environment protection law. The SPCB officials are making an on-the-spot assessment of the impact of the effluents discharge,” said member secretary of the SPCB Sidhanta Das. Plant officials termed the occurrence as ‘accidental’.

“The pipelines, connecting the gypsum ponds, had ruptured due to technical snags. As a result, some acidic liquid substances had made its way towards the Atharabanki waterbodies. The cracks are now plugged. We would compensate the loss suffered by the affected fishermen and ensure that there is no such recurrence of mishap in future,” said vice-president (operation) of the PPL Ranjan Basu.

Stench smell is emanating from the bloated bodies of fish and aquatic animals along the waterbodies that are connected to the Mahanadi river system. Kalinga Karnadhara Kaibarta Solabhai Sabha, a fishermen’s body, today lodged an FIR seeking penal action against the unit. “We are probing into the matter,” said inspector of Paradip police station Anil Mishra.

En-masse fish mortality has thrown up a disturbing trend of water-related pollution allegedly being perpetrated by industrial units in and around Paradip. Last year in October, another fertiliser manufacturing plant faced charge of effluent discharge.

“There are marked signs of asphyxiation on the dead fish. Besides, there are burning spots on the species. It might be due to acidic impact,” said SPCB personnel.

“Fishermen are shattered. Fishing is bound to come down considerably,” said Jiban Lal Behera, Jagatsinghpur district unit chief of the Orissa Traditional Fishermen Association.

“From time to time, the incident of en-masse dying of fish is reported. Effluents from the fertiliser plants are to be blamed,” said Pitambar Tarai, fishermen’s rights activist. The fishermen say they are paying the price of pollution. “We are bearing the brunt of the pollutant plants as fish are dying at periodic intervals,” said Ramesh Mandal, a fisherman.

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