Krishnaganj, July 5: Fishermen and nature care activists on Thursday collected water samples from over 30km stretch Mathabhanga and Churni rivers to get it tested and to submit the report to the centre so that it could take up the issue of its pollution allegedly done by a Bangladeshi sugar mill and distillery with Dhaka at the bilateral level.
The members of Dakshinbanga Matsyajibi Forum, an organisation of the fishermen, Mathabhanga and Churni River Rescue Committee and Chakdah Biggyan-O-Sanskritik Sanstha with the help of New Delhi based Public Advocacy Initiatives for Rights and Values in India (PAIRVI), which works for rights based approach, collected water samples of the two rivers allegedly polluted due to discharge of industrial effluent by Darshana based sugar mill and distillery (Carew & Company BD Ltd) that has robbed livelihood about thirty thousand fisherman in Nadia (3 blocks) and in part of North 24Parganas who live adjacent to these rivers.
The Bangladeshi company discharges its waste to River Mathabhanga, which entered India from at Gede in Nadia district.
After flowing about 19km up to Pabakhali from Gede, the Mathabhanga divided into Ichamati and Churni.
Ichamati entered North 24parganas to reach the Bay of Bengal (272km) while Churni met Bhagirathi river flowing about 56 km through Hanshkhali and Ranaghat.
The initiative to submit water test report to centre, taken up, as the state government did not respond to appeal by the fishermen. The fishermen and the nature care activists now want the draw attention of centre directly
On Wednesday the members of PAIRVI collected waters samples and also conducted some spot tests at different locations.
Soumya Dutta, an environmental scientist with PAIRVI said,“We have collected samples to check color of the water, its temperature, total dissolve solid (TDS) content there as well as the metallic mineral content there. We also conducted electrical conductivity test to know the oxygen level in the water. Some preliminary spot tests indicate that condition of water is very poor and acidic in nature mingled with bad organic substance. It appears that condition of water of Churni particularly horribly polluted”.
In 2016 a test by state pollution control board indicated that water the Churni river is highly polluted having bio-chemical oxygen demand in the water as high as 12 mg/L (against a normal of 4-5 mg/L) due to organic substance.
“In such condition chances of survival of fishes are very low. The water is high risk for fishes and plants”, said Dutta.
In 2016, a National Green Tribunal order directed the Centre to hold talks with Bangladesh Government regarding the alleged condition of the river. When no action came even six months after the order was issued, locals formed a Mathabhanga and Churni River Rescue Committee and wrote to Prime Minister Modi directly seeking a bilateral solution. Now the three organisations have joined the local fishermen to get the water test done and appriase the centre about the reality.
Milan Das, a fisherman and member of DMF said, “Once we get the test reports, it will be sent to centre, so that it requests Bangladesh government to ask the Chuadanga based sugar factory to stop draining industrial effluent to the Mathabhanga river and set up a waste treatment plant there”
Fishermen alleged that waste discharged by Sugar Company located in Darshana town of Chuadanga district in Bangladesh has been causing enormous damage to the fishes and human lives.
A fisherman said, “Fishes are gradually disappearing, while irrigation works are also being hampered due to polluted
water. People could no longer take bath in the river water for skin diseases. We want centre take up the issue with Bangla government otherwise a large number of people would die of starvation”.
A fisherman from Majhdia said: “The worst condition of the river could be seen from January to June when sugar is produced. The color of water turns black with bad odour. This time hardly any fish is found that forced me to work as daily labor, else I would die”.
District Officials said, the issue was discussed earlier during the DM-District commissioner level talk between Nadia and Chuadanga during 2011 and 2014. “In both the meeting the visiting officials of the Chuadanga district principally agreed for need for setting up of an effluent treatment plant, but nothing materialized so far”, said an officer of Nadia administration.
Nadia district magistrate Sumit Gupta said: “The problem of pollution of Mathabhanga and Churni by waste of sugar mill is serious one. It, however, needed to be resolved at higher level between two countries”.