The Dark Side of Hyderabad’s Pharma Boom: Lakhs of Fish Killed
Lakhs of dead fish have been washed ashore exposing the dark side of Hyderabad’s pharma boom.
Lingesh stands on the banks of the Gandigudem lake, barely a few metres away from Hyderabad's Outer Ring Road (ORR), gravely looking at the water body.
In front of him are hundreds of bloated fish that have washed ashore. The stench of the fish can be detected from half a km away, as they continue to rot and gradually decompose.
"It started with a few fish on 4 October. It had rained heavily a day earlier and we suspect that those people released their chemicals into the water," he says, as he points to a group of chimneys in the distance, emitting smoke.
On Friday, officials said that 2.3 lakh fish had washed ashore within a span of two days, causing a loss of several crores to the fishermen dependent on the lake.
The 266-acre lake is situated near the Kazipally Industrial area and Industrial Development Area (IDA), Bollaram and has been plagued with pollution for a while now, according to locals.
"We have been staying here for close to 30 years. We are facing several problems. We have not been drinking this water for a long time and have even stopped irrigating crops with this. The fishermen decided to release seedlings and harvest fish, so they could make a living, and industrial pollution has killed that too," says Tulasi Singh, a local.
“It’s the livelihood of so many people. Today, our fish have died, tomorrow our livestock will die, and then we will also die. It has to be stopped,” he adds.
Sangareddy District Fisheries Officer G Sujatha visited the site along with police officials on Friday, and took samples of the fish's gills and other body parts, to ascertain what kind of chemicals were released into the water.
Based on a complaint by the Fishermen Cooperative Society president Chinta Janardhan, Ameenpur police registered a criminal case against five pharmaceutical companies.
"We have booked a case against Hetero Pharma, Aurobindo, Mylan, SMS Pharma, Vantec and Sriram under Section 277 (Fouling water of public spring or reservoir) and Section 278 (Making atmosphere noxious to health) of the IPC," Ameenpur sub-inspector G Lalu Nayak told TNM.
“A sample of the water was also taken by the authorities concerned based on our request and we will proceed further once the results of the clinical tests are published," he added.
"It is clear that polluted and poisonous water from industries was intentionally let out into the water. It has happened purely because of government apathy and a defunct Pollution Control Board (PCB)," says Shankar Goud, a Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituency (ZPTC) member of Patancheru.
"We have protested in the past when this happened. We have informed them that companies are doing this. Yet, none of the authorities are concerned. Our main demand is that the PCB should ensure that the Supreme Court guidelines are followed, and none of the pollutants are released into the water," he adds.
Shankar also goes on to say, "To avoid such incidents in the future, just a fine will not be enough. The violating companies must be shut down. Additionally, any authority cooperating with the companies must be suspended."
This is also not the first such incident in Hyderabad in the recent past.
Just last month, the Pasumamula Lake in Abdullapurmet witnessed hundreds of dead fish floating on the surface of the water body.
Alleging that some unidentified persons released chemicals into the water body, Sanilla Srinivas, president of the Aqua Culture Society, said, “Fish worth about Rs 60 lakh died in the incident. Not only chemical waste, the lake has been polluted by sewage and other garbage.”
This also comes months after a similar incident in Rampally lake, in Telangana's Medchal district where several thousand fish washed ashore.
The Rampally lake too had several fishermen dependent on it to earn a livelihood, with officials suspecting that industrial pollution could have killed the fish.
(This article was first published on The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)
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