Environmental activists on Tuesday wrote to various state officials including chairperson of Narmada Control Authority and Gujarat Chief Secretary, asking them to disclose the reasons behind the presence of sulphide and decrease of dissolved oxygen (DO) in the Sardar Sarovar Dam and its canals after a fish kill was reported in the dam.
The letter has come days after The Indian Express reported that authorities were suspecting a possible seismic activity as the reason behind the sudden fish kill in the dam.
The letter, by NGO Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) activists Rohit Prajapati & Krishnakant, is addressed to the chairperson of Narmada Control Authority (NCA), Gujarat Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary (Narmada), Chairman & Managing Director of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) and Chairperson and Member Secretary of Gujarat Water Supply & Sewerage Board (GWSSB).
Citing newspaper reports, the activists have written, “The Sardar Sarovar Dam is understood to be ‘The Lifeline of Gujarat’ and is considered to be the solution to water problem of the entire state. The (reports that the) ‘Dissolved Oxygen’ (DO) levels are decreasing in Sardar Sarovar Dam waters and may have caused the sudden mass death of fishes raises concerns about the quality of water and possible contamination. The media reports indicate that the authorities are now inclined to believe that a seismic activity at the bottom of the reservoir could have caused a temporary release of toxic gases. The concerned authorities are reportedly seeking the help of the Oceanography Department. We feel that the water samples from the bottom of the dam must be collected and analysed to find out the reasons for decrease in Dissolved Oxygen.”
The letter questions the money being spent on promoting tourism in the area as against essential services like water. “The authorities are spending huge amounts for tourism in this area to attract tourists. It is surprising that they had no resource to inform public about the quality of water source or played down the crisis for reasons best known to them. We request the department concerned to make the information public and keep the public updated,” the letter stated.
“When and how did the authorities come to know of the problem? Who reported the gas emission and based on what evidence?” are among the questions posed by the activists.
The activists have also sought information about the plan of action to prevent such incidents in the future while asking for an immediately display of the information in public domain.
Speaking with The Indian Express, Prajapati said, “We have learnt that the authorities have not been monitoring the water regularly. It was only after the fishes died and the water turned black that the issue came to light. If they had been monitoring the water, they would have been able to identify the toxicity much before it was visible on the surface. The lack of clarity from the government is disconcerting.”
SSNNL officials were unavailable for comment.