Mass fish death in Periyar River: Kerala government to call meeting based on Kochi sub-collector’s report

Thousands of dead fish were found floating in River Periyar, sparking protests by local farmers and residents in Kochi last week.

ByPTI

Published May 27, 2024 | 4:51 PMUpdatedMay 27, 2024 | 4:51 PM

Mass fish death in Periyar River: Kerala government to call meeting based on Kochi sub-collector’s report

Facing flak from locals, environmentalists, and the opposition parties, the Kerala government on Sunday, 26 May, decided to convene a high-level meeting to discuss the issue of recent mass death of fish in the River Periyar.

State Industries Minister P Rajeev said the meeting will deliberate on the report to be submitted by the Fort Kochi sub-collector on the incident. He also assured that further action will be taken based on that report, which is expected to reach the government by Monday.

His statement came days after thousands of dead fish were found floating in River Periyar, sparking protests by local farmers and residents in Kochi last week.

The minister said separate reports were sought from the State Pollution Control Board and the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS) into the incident, and the sub-collector would submit it after coordinating all the other reports.

If there is any sharp contrast between the reports of the Pollution Control Board and KUFOS, an independent probe would be conducted, Rajeeve told reporters in Kochi.

Also Read: Mass fish deaths in Periyar river sparks protests in Kochi; locals allege chemical waste spill

‘Conservation of Periyar to be ensured’

The minister said the objective of the government is to find a permanent solution for the protection of Periyar. He noted that the state government has already discussed and decided to have exclusive authority for the conservation of rivers.

It would be examined in detail based on the report, and the conservation of Periyar would be ensured. A high-level meeting would be called in Thiruvananthapuram after receiving the report, and action would be taken based on its decisions, he said.

Pointing to the allegations about the presence of ammonia and sulfur in the river water, the minister quoted the experts as saying that it could be from either organic waste or chemical effluents.

If it is specified in the report that an inspection is required, the government would consider it, Rajeev said.

Once it is clear which chemical is present in the water, the company that releases the effluent will be traced, and action will be taken against it, the minister assured.

Also Read: Aquatic faunal survey of Periyar Tiger Reserve reveals diversity of fish, insect species

Locals blame chemical waste for fish deaths 

Local people alleged that illegal discharge of chemical waste from nearby factories was to blame for the mass death of fish reported in Kochi last week.

Fish farmers, particularly those involved in cage farming, reported significant losses amounting to several lakhs due to the mass fish deaths.

The dead fish were found in large numbers in fish farms across panchayats such as Varapuzha, Kadamakkudy, and Cheranalloor near Kochi since last Tuesday. Widespread protests prompted the district administration to take action.

The government had formed a special committee under the aegis of Fort Kochi Sub-Collector to study the developments and submit a report in this regard within a week.

The local Pollution Control Board office at Eloor  had witnessed huge protests by fish farmers, local people, environmental activists and Congress workers.

The protesters dumped dead fish in front of the office and raised slogans against the board officials, alleging that they were not taking stringent measures against the factories that allegedly discharge chemical effluents into the River Periyar.

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