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Deadly sugar mill spill: Fearing contamination, supply to waterworks in Muktsar stopped

Alarming: Mobile water testing vans sent to villages; water suitable for irrigation, say officials; water supply and sanitation dept on their toes.

punjab Updated: May 21, 2018 09:13 IST
Sarbmeet Singh
Sarbmeet Singh
Hindustan Times, Muktsar
sugar mill spill,death of hundreds of fish,spill of molasses
Water in a Muktsar canal turned black on Sunday. (HT photo)

After the contamination of water in Rajasthan and Sirhind feeder canals, which are a major source of irrigation and potable water in Muktsar and Fazilka districts, officials of the water supply and sanitation department are on their toes to tackle the situation.

Meanwhile, water supply from these canals to water works in villages of Muktsar has been stopped to prevent any untoward incident. The water in these two canals comes from Beas river, which was contaminated due a spill of molasses from a sugar mill in Gurdaspur district recently, leading to death of hundreds of fish.

The Rajasthan and Sirhind feeders cover a huge area of Muktsar district, including Muktsar, Malout and Lambi subdivisions. It supplies water to hundreds of villages in the area.

The water supply and sanitation department has made announcement in the villages asking people not to use water from these canals, besides closing the inlets of reservoirs. The department has also sent mobile testing vans to these villages to test the quality of water.

Talkng to HT, Dharminder Singh, junior engineer, water supply and sanitation, said, “There are 132 villages in Muktsar subdivision that take water from the Sirhind canal. The capacity of the water works is according to the population of the village and each storage tank in water works can store water for 15 days. The water was stored in most of these tanks before the spill in the Beas river and it is fit for consumption .”

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He added, “Mobile testing vans are moving around in the villages and our teams are taking samples of water. All reservoir inlets supplying water to the water works of villages have been closed.”

Gurbhagat Singh Bhlaiana, president, Bharti Kisan Union (Ugrahan), said, “The water in the canals is giving foul smell and is black in colour. We are apprehensive about using it for irrigation purpose as it may lead to spread of diseases among crops as well as people.”

When contacted, executive engineer, irrigation, Harlabh Singh Chahal, said, “The molasses are biodegradable. The death of fish (in Beas river) occurred due to lack of oxygen in water as molasses consume oxygen from water. This water is fit for irrigation purpose. The supply from the Beas river has been increased and we are hopeful of resolving the problem by Monday evening.” Meanwhile, Mukstar deputy commissioner Sumeet Jarangal appealed to the public not to use water from these canals.

First Published: May 21, 2018 09:13 IST