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Lucknowites go fishing as fish die in Gomti

Residents in northern India waded through a sewage-filled Gomti on Friday, scooping up thousands of dead fish to sell to unsuspecting customers.

india Updated: Jun 28, 2003 10:31 IST

Residents in northern India waded through a sewage-filled Gomti on Friday, scooping up thousands of dead fish to sell to unsuspecting customers.

Untreated sewage led to a drastic drop in oxygen levels in the Gomti River flowing through Lucknow,killing the fish, officials said. "The levels of dissolved oxygen in the water have gone down due to the flushing of sewage and other impurities. This has worsened with the recent rains," said KK Sharma, a state pollution control board official.

Some 50 people were seen wading into the chest-deep water, using wicker baskets to scoop up dead fish.

"I have collected more than 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of fish. We will sell it off," said Irfan Ali, who lives near the river. Later on Friday, police raided markets in Lucknow and arrested at least 10 people for selling contaminated fish, said Jagmohan Singh, a city council member.

Going into the river "can cause rashes all over the body, such is the extent of the pollution," said Pramod Agarwal, a skin specialist.

People living near the river said the color of the water had changed and become murkier in the past few days.

"The situation is grim because the Gomti provides most of the potable water to this city of more than 3 million people," said Ratan Mani Lal, an environmental activist working with Social Scavengers, an organization involved in cleanup efforts. The water is treated before being sold for drinking.

Officials said they expected the situation to improve later Friday.

"Fresh water is being pumped into the river. By late evening, the level should be normal again," said Sharma, the pollution control official.

First Published: Jun 28, 2003 10:31 IST