The Telegraph
Friday , May 30 , 2014
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Sarovar fish breathe easy
- Jusco clean-up for reservoir health

Civic guardian Jusco’s Mission Clean is helping the landmark 20-acre Jayanti Sarovar at Jubilee Park, Jamshedpur, come out of murky waters. Ask the fish.

Not a single carcass has been recently seen in the lake that hit the headlines for some 200 fish deaths on May 5.

The Indian carp (mrigal) catla (katla), rohu (rui), tilapia cichlid (telapiya), catfish and others will vouch for the fact that water level and dissolved oxygen have gone up.

Since Monday, Tata Steel’s wholly owned subsidiary Jusco, which looks after the water reservoir, pressed into service a 40-member workforce since Monday to clean the lake of floating algae, weeds, water hyacinth and aquatic plants. The cleaning team has a June 5 deadline.

Jusco horticultural department head Manoj Biswal is monitoring the task, which continues from 8am to 5pm. Work is simultaneously on at seven points of the lake.

It is apparent that the job is well begun, half done.

The dense vegetation of aquatic plants, which used to cover around 40 per cent of the lake’s surface, strangulating aquatic species, has been cleaned to a large extent.

“We have cleared nearly 70 per cent of dense algae, weeds and aquatic plants from the lake surface. We hope to clean wild growth within deadline,” said a senior official of Jusco horticultural department.

Algae and weeds have short lifespan but they use up dissolved oxygen, leaving fish gasping for breath. Fish stare at imminent death if water becomes less than 4PPM (parts per million).

Desilting and dredging with excavators have been done near both inlet points (Old Court end) and (Tata zoo). Desilting pits will be set up near inlet points before June 15, monsoon, to prevent toxic water and sewage from flowing into the lake.

“This apart, we plan lime treatment of water during monsoon to benefit fish, snails and other aquatic fauna,” said the horticultural department official. “It involves putting lime and potassium permanganate into the reservoir.”

Experts know lime in water bodies provides calcium necessary for shell growth in snails and molluscs, exoskeleton production in insects and scale production in fish. Carbonates supplied by lime turn into carbon dioxide for use during photosynthesis. Carbonates are also released into the water column to buffer wide swings in pH.

The number of fountains in the lake will also be increased by two — from existing four to six — for better aeration. Two new fountains will be installed by July.

Many of the steps have been taken at the directive of Jharkhand High Court, which heard a suo motu PIL on the May 5 fish deaths and sought a report from the district administration and Jusco by May 15 on preventive steps.

Anglers have noticed a difference. “After the May 5 eye-opener, water level has improved and fish are doing better. We can feel the difference,” Geoffrey Bonjour, Jamshedpur Angling Club secretary, who was also part of a drive to sprinkle Toximar, a medicine that neutralises pollutants in water, on the lake.

Contacted, Jusco spokesperson Rajesh Rajan said they were committed to Jayanti Sarovar’s health. “The cleaning exercise and other steps are a pointer to our commitment,” he said.