On Tuesday, residents living near Thamalam in Thiruvananthapuram, on the banks of the Karamana river, saw a huge swarm of predatory birds fly down to eat a number of dead fish that were floating on the water and had washed ashore. The fish, which included many small varieties of fish including karimeen, have started to decay, which has caused a foul smell to persist.
“When the birds began to fly down in large numbers, I noticed the dead fish. A foul smell also began emanating from the river. I have been living here for 10 years, and this is the first time this has happened,” TC Cherian, a resident of Pearl Garden on the banks of the Karmana river told TNM. The river originates from the Western Ghats and flows through the city of Thiruvananthapuram.
The dead fish that surfaced on the river
According to Cherian, the City Corporation later buried the fish that had washed ashore. However, as several fish started to decompose, the birds disappeared as well. “There were no birds after the first day, as the fish began decaying slowly. The disappearance of the birds also seems strange. The death of the fish in bulk needs to be examined, as the Karamana river is a source of drinking water too," Dinesh Kumar, a resident of Pearl Garden who is also a psychiatrist, told TNM.
Drinking water from Thiruvananthapuram comes from upstream of the river. Both the Aruvikkara and Peppara dams are built over the river.
"We drink the water of the river; I grew up on its banks. We have never witnessed anything like this. This is the water pumped from the dam and provided to people," Rajan, a native of Thamalam in Thiruvananthapuram told TNM. Rajan and his friend Nandu, who are both in their 60s, said that this was the first time they witnessed the fish washing ashore as well. They allege that authorities have not taken adequate steps to investigate the matter.
Residents say this is the first time they have witnessed the phenomenon
Both the residents alleged that Thiruvananthapuram Mayor Arya Rajendran, who is also the ward councillor, had not taken cognisance of the incident. However, the Mayor has rejected this claim. "A similar incident happened on the river bank at Mudavanmukal too. The river flows from Mudavanmukal to Thamalam. The Corporation has reported this to both the Fisheries Department and to the Pollution Control Board and is awaiting the report," she said, adding that the incident was discussed during the Corporation council meeting on Thursday.