IMPHAL, Jan 6 � Unknown miscreants again polluted the Thoubal river by emptying bags of bleaching powder (Calcium hypochlorite) in the river to catch fish near the Thoubal bridge recently, according to People for Animals (PFA) Manipur.
On hearing the news, a PFA team rushed there to catch the culprits. �Our members could feel the chlorine-filled air when they reached the spot. Many aquatic animals were writhing in the water due to toxicity,�, said PFA Managing Trustee L Biswajeet Meitei, in a press release. �On seeing us, the illegal fishermen managed to escape�, he added.
The team collected the fish and put it in a large vessel containing clean water. Members of Thoubal College Student Union joined the PFA team in rescuing the aquatic animals.
The team seized three big fish nets found in the water. Onlookers informed the PFA team that the fishermen were mostly from nearby areas.
Bleaching powder is not available in the market and it is available only in the store of Public Health Engineering department (PHE). PFA suspected that the chemical were brought from bleaching powder store of Thoubal PHE.
�We also found more than four empty bags of the chemical from the spot. It is estimated that the amount of chemicals they used in their attempt to catch the fish at Thoubal river could treat at least 40 million litres of water�. It is believed that the high concentration of Calcium hypochlorite can burn the mucous membrane of aquatic animals and plants. Small fish and other young crabs, shrimps, etc., may die instantly as it will adversely affect the aquatic ecosystem of the Thoubal river. Water with high concentration of Calcium hypochlorite is also not good for human consumption, the press release said.
Rescued and alive fishes and crabs were later released back into the river.
�The act of killing fish in such a way is punishable with imprisonment up to one year and six months which can extend up to six years with fine under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974�, the release added.
PFA appealed to the people to stop fishing by resorting to electrocution and chemicals. People who commit such crimes are not poor fisherman but greedy and anti-socials. It further appealed to PHE Chief Engineer to check the supply and distribution of bleaching powder to the general public.
Sometime earlier, PFA conducted a raid at Ikop Lake and seized seven big bird nets set up by poachers near the lake, a PFA press release said. A team of poachers managed to escape but they left two single barrel rifles which the PFA later handed over to Thoubal Police.
Meanwhile, research biologist Urva Sharma of Wildlife Institute of India visited PFA Manipur. Urva works on Tiger projects.