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Saturday , June 16 , 2012
 
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Lake of the dead faces autopsy
- Beldih patrolling stepped up, JSPCB collects water samples for tests

The once inviting Beldih Lake in Jamshedpur remained a repulsive watery grave for the second consecutive day on Friday as lifeless fish continued to bob up on its foul surface.

Security reinforcement by lake guardian Jusco and intensified patrolling by Bistupur police, however, prevented a rerun of Thursday’s ugly race for fish trophies, while a hitherto laggard Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB) dropped its inaction label and collected water samples for tests.

But, prompt action ended there, much to the disappointment of worried anglers.

Though Jusco — a wholly owned Tata Steel subsidiary — increased the number of guards for the three-acre lake from one to four, it failed to keep its promise to Jamshedpur Angling Club to release water through the single inlet. As a result, the lake level was deeper (3ft) at the centre and shallow (one foot) along the edges, which is not ideal for artificial water bodies.

Angling club secretary Geoffrey Bonjour said he had a telephonic conversation with senior Jusco officials in the morning. “We were told that water from Subernarekha pump house in Sakchi was being supplied to JRD Tata Sports Complex, Keenan Stadium and Jubilee Park, but there is some problem in the pipeline network to Beldih Lake, which they have not been able to detect so far,” he said.

All the four city landmarks are situated within a radius of a kilometre. The park, the sports complex and the stadium are at a stone’s throw from each other, while the lake is a kilometre away.

Jusco spokesperson Rajesh Rajan could not be contacted.

Bonjour added that the Jusco authorities had, however, breathed longer life into the lone fountain, which would now be operational at regular intervals. “This will help maintain the oxygen balance. Earlier, the fountain was turned on once a day for two hours. Now, it will flow twice — morning and evening — for four hours each,” he said.

According to club members, around 200 catfish and other “non-class” (angling parlance) fish were found floating on the water surface on Friday instead of big fish like rohu and katla.

Ethologist S.S. Razi, who is professor of zoology at Kolhan University, said regular cleaning of the lake and preventing water use for bathing and washing were imperative to revive the former fish paradise.

“Cleaning of artificial water bodies every two years, supplying fresh water and regular removal of water hyacinths and purging of algae are absolutely necessary. I would also suggest that local residents stop washing utensils, vehicles and clothes near the lake. Potassium permanganate, lime and bleaching powder help in raising the oxygen level in water and hence, is a must in scorching summers when the lake becomes shallow,” he said.

Meanwhile, JSPCB regional officer R.N. Choudhary has initiated a probe into the cause of fish deaths. “We have collected water samples from the lake this morning. Lab tests will be conducted in Adityapur to verify the amount of dissolved oxygen and other soluble substances in water,” he said.

Choudhary maintained that their report would be available in four days, after which further action would be recommended. He added that besides Beldih Lake, others like Jayanti Sarovar at Jubilee Park and Bara Lake would be put to test on a regular basis from now on.