Chandigarh: The entire ecosystem of the Beas river, which has been affected due to molasses leakage, will take a few years to recover, Punjab Chief Wildlife Warden said today.
Noting that the leak has caused massive damage to the aquatic life, he said the restoration of ecosystem does take time.
"It is not that ecosystem in river will get restored in a few months with the kind of catastrophe we have witnessed. It is going to take a few years,"Chief Wildlife Warden Kuldip Kumar told PTI.
A large number of fish were found dead in the Beas on May 17 after molasses from a sugar factory leaked into the river in Punjabs Beas town, about 40 km from Amritsar. As many as eight to ten varieties of fish including cat fish, common carp died because of low level of oxygen in the river.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is likely to hold a meeting with senior officials in connection with the incident on Friday.
Meanwhile, the Wildlife Department is also monitoring the long term effect on the behaviour of indus dolphins, which were sighted in the river two days after the molasses leakage incident, Kumar said. The Wildlife Department has filed a petition in the Batala Court under the relevant provisions of the Wildlife Act, seeking action against the sugar mill owner for the leakage, official said.
The mill belonged to Jasdeep Kaur Chadha, daughter of former Delhi Gurdwara Sikh Parbandhak Committee chief Harvinder Singh Sarna.
Jasdeeps late husband Hardeep Singh Chadha was the brother of liquor baron late Ponty Chadha. Meanwhile, a report of the probe committee led by Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) Chief Engineer G S Majithia was today submitted to the state government for an appropriate action. "We have received the report which was submitted by PPCB Chief Engineer. We will examine the report," Punjab Principal Secretary (Science, Technology and Environment) Roshan Sunkaria said.
However, he refused to divulge any content of the probe committee report. The committee had a mandate to investigate how and why this incident happened and what were the deficiencies and what action proposed to be taken to prevent such incidents in future. The state government had warned of a strict action if the mill management was found guilty in the investigation report. While talking to reporters, Environment Minister O P Soni said that the state government was not running away from its responsibilities. "Fish died because of molasses leakage. How and why this happened it will be clear in the report," the minister said .
He said 2,000 cusecs of water was released to flush out the contaminated water. Soni rubbished the allegations by the opposition of "protecting" the sugar mill owner and said that the government had already sealed the mill and seized Rs 25 lakh of the Chadha Sugar Mill of Kirri Afgana in Gurdaspur from where the molasses spilled into the river. A state government official said that following the molasses leakage, the main priority of the government was to ensure potable drinking water to people living in Faridkot, Muktsar and Fazilka districts where the water supply was canal based.
People were asked not to use canal based water which was contaminated because of the leakage and inlets of reservoirs were also closed, the official said. The Aam Aadmi Party today said the party MLAs will seek from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) a strict action against the sugar mill owner. "AAP MLAs along with me will meet Acting Chairperson NGT tomorrow at 2 pm in Delhi, with a petition seeking a strict action and remedial measures on gross contamination of river and canal waters in Punjab," AAP MLA and leader of opposition in Punjab Assembly Sukhpal Singh Khaira tweeted.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today claimed that the Union Environment Ministry had deputed a central team to assess the ecological damage caused by the sugar mill by releasing industrial effluents into the Beas river.
SAD President in a statement here said he had been conveyed that a central team would make on-the-spot inquiry of the man made ecological disaster which had killed thousands of tonnes of fish, besides polluting drinking water supply of the Malwa region. PTI