After thousands of fish were found dead in Panchganga river near Terwad village in Kolhapur district, angry villagers on Wednesday tied up a senior official of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), claiming nothing had been done in the matter despite repeated complaints by them. The official was released only after the MPCB promised action against officials of the Ichalkaranji civic body.
MPCB regional officer Sachin Harbad, who visited the village on Wednesday to inspect the riverbed where the fish were found, was accosted by the villagers, led by members of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, and tied up to a stone structure. He was released an hour later, only after MPCB officials promised, in writing, to probe the incident and take action against the guilty, including civic officials.
“Since last year, thousands of fish have been found dead near the Kolhapur-type weir at Terwad village. Despite the release of untreated water by industrial units and untreated nullah water into the river, MPCB has not taken any action in the matter. Therefore, as a drastic measure, we tied up the officer when he came to conduct a panchama. We released him only after the MPCB gave a letter, saying they will file a police complaint against Ichalkaranji civic officials,” said Vishwas Balghate of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana.
Balghate said the river water is extremely polluted. “The river has been affected by pollution, which has claimed the lives of thousands of fish. The stench from the water is unbearable. There are at least five industrial estates upwards of the weir. The industrial units, including chemical ones, release untreated water into the river,” he alleged.
Bandu Patil, a member of the Sanghatana, said there are 12 nullahs from Kolhapur and two from Ichalkaranji, besides hundreds of industrial units, which discharge untreated waste into the river.
Prashant Gaikwad, sub-regional officer of MPCB, said, “I am on leave… but our officials are investigating the matter. I am not in a position to say what led to the death of the fish.”