Environmentalists blame chemical waste from cottage industries, PCMC turns a blind eye
After hundreds of fish were found dead in the Indrayani river in Pimpri Chinchwad, local environmentalists are once again up in arms against the discharge of chemical waste generated by cottage industries which have flooded Kudalwadi, Chikhali and More wasti.
Activists claim the fauna in the river is hugely threatened by this waste and have accused the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) authorities of not paying heed despite several complaints in the past.
On Thursday, some local fishermen had gone to the river near Chikhali ghat and found several fish floating on the surface. Some of them even complained that a stink from the chemicals was emanating from the water.
Speaking to Mirror, Vikas Patil, a member of the Pune district environment committee, said that over the last few years, due to industrialisation, chemical waste has been discharged into the river on a large scale, polluting the water and killing the fish.
“We have been complaining and demanding that stern action be taken against those responsible,” he said, adding that PCMC is categorically turning a deaf ear to their complaints.
Another member of the committee said that if PCMC continued to ignore the reality of the polluted river, they would throw the dead fish inside the PCMC office.
Sanjay Kulkarni, executive engineer (environment) of PCMC, said they have not received any communication from the environmentalists group. “Once we receive official information, we will collect samples and send them to the laboratory to ascertain the exact reason,” he said.
Kulkarni ,however, added that the entire issue does not come under their purview, saying that it is the responsibility of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB). “We will write to the MBCP,” he said.
However, Patil pointed out that it is PCMC which gives No Objection Certificates to these industries. Therefore, it is the civic body’s responsibility to see that the chemical waste gets treated, he said.
Mandar Paingankar, a professor from the Zoology department of Savitribai Phule Pune University, who has co-authored a research paper on ‘Fish Fauna of Indrayani River,’ said , “We found that the fish fauna is threatened due to various human activities — one of the main being the discharge of organic and inorganic waste which causes water pollution,” he said.
Paigankar added that there are several species of fish facing extinction and immediate measures need to be taken.
“A few years ago, researchers found a rare fish called Lipto-Thoras in the Mula-Mutha river. Due to industrialisation and subsequent pollution, this particular species faces extinction. A similar species has been found in the Indrayani, and its numbers, too, are falling fast,” he said.
Industrialists, however, have refuted all allegations. Nitin Bankar, president of Pimpri Chinchwad Small Scale Industries, said the allegations are baseless as most of the industries are mechanical firms, with hardly any paint manufacturing ones.
“There is not a single firm which has been to the riverside and there is no question of chemical waste being discharged,” he said.
Anil Mohekar, regional officer of MPCB, Pune, too, refuted the claims. Every time there are incidents of fish dying, we take samples and it has been proved that the deaths were not caused by hazardous chemicals. We have been monitoring spots from where sewage water is being discharged into the river and till date, we have no evidence that there is chemical waste present,” he said.”
“We have taken samples again and they will be tested to check for water pollutants,” Mohekar added.