Plea for fish deaths probe

The Khasi Students' Union demanded an independent inquiry into the mysterious death of thousands of fishes, which they claimed was because of the change of colour of river water at Ranikor in South West Khasi Hills district.

By Rining Lyngdoh in Shilong
  • Published 23.01.18
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Dead fish in the river. Picture by Rining Lyngdoh

Shillong: The Khasi Students' Union demanded an independent inquiry into the mysterious death of thousands of fishes, which they claimed was because of the change of colour of river water at Ranikor in South West Khasi Hills district.

The president of the union's Ranikor circle, Marcony Thongni, told reporters here on Monday that the state government should immediately set up an independent inquiry team to find out the cause of the change in river water colour from blue to green since January 5.

He said members of the union inspected the site on January 19 and found that thousands of dead fishes were floating in the river.

The river at Ranikor is near the India-Bangladesh border in South West Khasi Hills district, about 140km from here.

The deaths have become quite common since the first incident in 2010.

"We will be compelled to approach an international agency to investigate the matter, which has become a common phenomenon, if the state government fails to heed the demand," Thongni said.

In February last year, the deputy commissioner of South West Khasi Hills had also asked the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board to conduct an inquiry into the incident, the report of which is yet to be made public.

But in its report on the 2010 incident, the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board had cited coal mining as the main cause for the unnatural death of fishes in the river.

The KSU said it cannot accept the pollution board's report, which suggested that the frequent change of colour of water was because of coal mining.

"We want an independent inquiry because we have lost faith in the state pollution control board," he said.

The union suspected that the main reason was exploratory drilling of uranium ore from several sites located near the river.

The KSU also said there were hundreds of abandoned uncovered pits after carrying out exploratory drilling of uranium at Porkut in the district.

Last year, the Meghalaya Assembly, during its budget session, had agreed to a visit by members of the House to see around 1,500 boreholes drilled for exploratory mining by the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd in several areas of South West Khasi Hills district. However, the visit did not take place.

The union urged the South West Khasi Hills district administration to issue prohibitory orders as there is a possibility that some people might sell the dead fishes.