Aftermath of contamination: Plans afoot to ban fishing in Beas for 2 years
Days after Punjab’s biggest ecological disaster took place in the Beas due to the discharge of molasses from a Gurdaspur sugar mill, the state’s department of fisheries has proposed to impose a complete ban on fishing in the river for two years.
Also, the department has proposed to release seeds of fish varieties in the Beas that were once found in it from other water bodies as part of its revival plan for the river’s ecosystem.
“We have sent the proposal to our head office to ban fishing in the river. Now, it is up to the government to take final call on this,” department of fisheries assistant director Raj Kumar said.
Officials of the forest and wildlife department also supported the revival proposal of the department of fisheries.
Kuldeep Kumar, principal chief conservator of forests, department of forest and wildlife, said, “We are still assessing the loss caused by the disaster. We can only chalk out the revival plan for the next stage.”
“Ban on fishing should be the top priority. Secondly, the river should not be subjected to any kind of disturbance or interference. All the departments, including the police, should cooperate in achieving this. Besides, proper and consistent flow of water from the dams is also necessary for the revival,” said an official, who did not want to be quoted as he is not authorised to talk to the media.
The river’s ecosystem was heavily damaged due to the spill as it not only endangered the varieties of fish, but also broke the food chain, thereby affecting other species in the river and migratory birds that visit the Harike wetland during winter season every year.
Raj Kumar said they have sent the proposal to release seeds of now-extinct varieties to the department head office. He said they have proposed two ways out to revive the river’s ecology.
“Since the monsoon season, which is the breeding period for fish, is upcoming, we have proposed to bring the seeds of now-extinct varieties (in Beas) from other sources to release them at different points of the river,” he said, adding, “Some verities are available in Punjab and can easily be reintroduced in the river, while rest of the varieties will have to be brought from coastal states such as Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Orissa.”
The now-extinct fish varieties include the common carp, Indian rohu, catla, mrigal, catfish, singari, gosh, bam, chital, bata and sol.
“The Indian Rahu, catla and common corp among others are available in government-owned fish seed farms in Punjab. Such a farm is also there at Rajasansi village from where the fish seed can be brought to the river,” he said.
Dead fish disposed of
The two departments have disposed of the fish that died in the wake of the sugar mill spill by burying them in pits near the banks of the river, it has been learnt.
Kumar said they carried out the drive on May 17 and 18 to dispose of the dead fish as it was necessary to prevent further deterioration of the river ecology. “We applied a chemical substance on the dead fish before dumping them,” he said.