Another fish-kill was reported in Bengaluru, this time in the Hebbal lake on Sunday morning, and it appears that they are likely to land up on your plates with officials remaining clueless about the cause of death.
After the initial shock, locals cashed in on the phenomenon, and the dead fish soon landed in markets in the area.
Several times in the past, a similar phenomenon was reported from Ulsoor lake, with two instances this year alone. On March 7, and later May 11, thousands of dead fish were found floating on the surface of Ulsoor lake and were later sold by locals for consumption.
Fish-kill from Ulsoor lake being sold earlier in May
Asked about the food safety of fish from the Hebbal lake, Deputy Director of Fisheries, Bengaluru, Gopala Reddy K made contradictory remarks. He first said that no one would buy the fish, but also maintained that the fish had been buried.
However, convener of Friends of Lakes Ram Prasad, who visited the area on Sunday afternoon, says that he saw people selling fish from the lake. âOn an average, there used to be 45 fish stalls in the area. But after this incident, a lot of locals were seen picking up the fish from the lake and later sold the fish on the road-side,â he says.
Asked if there was any health risk from consuming the fish Reddy said there was no health risk from eating the fish, and claimed that there were no industrial effluents released into the lake.
But with authorities unable to agree on even the circumstance preceding the fish-kill let alone the cause of death, the confidence of the Fisheries department appears misplaced.
Ram Prasad said that the sewage from MS Palya, Vidyaranyapura and Kodigehalli flows into the Hebbal lake. He added that instead of allotting money for rejuvenation of lakes, a real-time monitoring system should be put in place at Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) to check the functioning of these plants.
The STP on Hebbal lake is run by a private company and Ram Prasad claims that on days when there are heavy rains, the plant only works partially. âWhen it rains, the sewage is not concentrated as it is on normal days and so, the STPs only functions partially. The inflow of untreated sewage causes the oxygen level in the lake to drop, causing the fish to die,â he said. It had rained on Friday night.
Calling the Karnataka State Lake Development and Conservation Authority (KSLDCA) a âtooth-less bodyâ, he said that the body is responsible for looking into such issues, but has miserably failed.
Ajay Misra, CEO, KSLDCA, was quoted as saying, âSurface water and silt entered into the lakes from two inlets following rains. This resulted in low oxygen levels.â
An Environmental Officer with the Karnataka State Pollution Board who did not want to be named claimed that the fish died due to natural causes and that it was the first time a fish-kill was being reported in Hebbal.
âAs on Monday, the oxygen level in the lake was around 3 mg/l. The fish are most likely to have died due to the oil content on the road-side being seeped into the lake due to recent rains and not because of low oxygen level. Only one species of fish - Tilapia/jilapi-were found dead, while none of the other species were affected.â