More than 250 Indian flapshell turtles protected under the Wildlife Protection Act were found dead in the Balageria–Hatiari canal near Alua village of East Midnapore on June 15.
Locals blame the toxic effluents released into the canal by a nearby rice mill for the incident.
Wildlife expert Biswajit Roychowdhury said the dead turtles fell under Schedule-1 category under the Wildlife Protection Act, which provides protection to all endangered species.
“We got to know the incident from a member of the local Biodiversity Management Committee and immediately informed the matter to the forest department and the State Pollution Control Board,” said State Biodiversity Board chairman H. S. Debnath.
“I was the first one to notice the dead turtles in the morning and raised the alarm. I also took their photographs,” said Ganesh Jana, a local, to this reporter.
“A local rice mill is responsible for this tragedy. It has been discharging toxic effluents into the canal. We complained to the local authorities about it, but the pollution has not stopped," he added.
“We have received the complaint. A team will go tomorrow to collect water samples from the canal,” said Kalyan Rudra, chairman of the State Pollution Control Board on Wednesday evening.
A senior forest department official said they had already collected the bodies of the dead turtles to find out the exact cause of their death.