Dead fish float in Charkop pond, chemical leak alleged

Mumbai: 9 March, 2019 (Times of India)

Mumbai: Hundreds of dead fish have been found floating in a pond in Charkop’s Sector 8 area in the last two days. Locals suspect that harmful chemicals dumped in a nearby sewerage treatment plant may have seeped into the pond and killed the fish as the water near the periphery has turned pinkish. They have alerted the ward officials who have sent water samples for testing.

“This sudden death of fish is probably due to chemical poisoning,” said Mili Shetty, an environmentalist living in the area. “There is a sewerage treatment plant near the pond located at the foothills of Turzon Point. Someone may have dumped poisonous chemicals into the plant which may have found its way into the pond. We have complained to the local ward office about the issue.”

R-Central ward officer Ramakant Birader said: “We have sent water samples for testing. We will be able to take action only after we find out the pollutant—waste from sewerage treatment plant or the nearby creek—that caused the fish to die.”

E Ravendiran, member secretary of Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, said, “Most of the lakes and ponds in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region have high pollution levels and need to be constantly treated. However, only severe depletion of oxygen in a pond or lake can result in the death of fish. We have yet to look into this Charkop incident. We will check the cause of the pollution and plan necessary steps thereafter.”

Last July, the local residents had taken up the challenge to clean this pond. “Over 100 nature enthusiasts from over 11 NGOs joined in our drive to clean the pond and return it to its natural beauty. We spent months cleaning up debris, plastic, thermocol, broken glass and other floating waste and even reached out to the BMC to help us in this endeavour, which gave it the Swachh Bharat tagline,” said a resident, who did not want to be named. But a few months later, as the festive season started, the pond got choked again with devotees immersing idols and nirmalya (floral waste) .

As the ward office is yet to remove the dead fish and clean the pond, locals fear that this could be the death of the area’s ecosystem. “This pond is a birder’s paradise. We can spot various species of winged beauties, including Asian paradise flycatcher, cormorants, pond herons and whistling ducks. With the fish dying, these birds will no longer come here to feed,” said Shetty, who had written to the Prime Minister’s Office last month to declare Charkop Sector 8 a bird habitat as it houses three ponds.