Periyar mass fish death: Kerala government gives pollution control board a clean chit

Vijayan said that the recent mass death of fish in the Periyar river resulted due to less dissolved oxygen in the water.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jun 11, 2024 | 4:55 PM Updated Jun 11, 2024 | 4:55 PM

Kerala CM on Kuwait fire tragedy

Following the mass death of fish in the Periyar river in May, the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) received widespread criticism for the alleged polluting incident.

However, the Kerala government has now given a clean chit to the KSPCB as Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan informed the Assembly on Tuesday, 11 June, that as per preliminary reports, there was no dereliction of duty on the part of KSPCB officials.

Vijayan said that the recent mass death of fish in the Periyar river resulted due to less dissolved oxygen in the water and there was no discharge of chemical waste from factories into the river.

The chief minister made the submission in response to a query by opposition UDF MLA TJ Vinod with regard to action taken against those who allegedly discharged chemical waste into the river resulting in the death of the fish.

Also Read: Mass fish deaths in Periyar river sparks protests in Kochi

Low oxygen 

Vijayan said that the State Pollution Control Board (PCB) conducted an inspection of the river following the incident and the water samples tested showed dissolved oxygen to be below the levels required for fish to survive.

“According to the preliminary investigation, when the shutter of the Pathalam regulator-cum-bridge was opened following heavy rains, a large amount of oxygen-poor water flowed into the river from the upstream side of the regulator,” the CM said.

The initial probe also did not find any discharge of chemical waste into the river from the factories on the shores of the Periyar, he said.

The CM further said that the PCB will submit its detailed findings only after getting the report of the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS) on the issue.

Regarding the loss suffered by fish farmers, Vijayan said that preliminary data indicates that it was to the tune of ₹13.56 crore.

Once recommendations are received regarding the compensation to be given to the fish farmers, they will be examined and appropriate action will be taken, he said in the House.

Mass death of fish

Fish were found dead in large numbers in fish farms across panchayats adjoining Periyar such as Varapuzha, Kadamakkudy, and Cheranalloor in Ernakulam district on 21 May.

Subsequently, the state government held a meeting and worked out long and short-term measures to prevent a recurrence of the incident.

The short-term preventive measures included formulating protocols for opening the Pathalam regulator-cum-bridge on the Periyar River and installation of biofilters on industrial units on the river’s banks.

The long-term measures were with regard to protecting and reclaiming the Periyar as well as other rivers in the state and included taking steps to set up a river-related authority, state Industries Minister P Rajeev said last month.

Also Read: Kerala Church threatens to oust priests over non-compliance with uniform Holy Mass directive

(With inputs from PTI and Dileep V Kumar)