No specific chemical behind Meghalaya fish death

Shillong, June 18 : An official investigation into the death of thousands of fish in a river near Indo-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya's remote West Khasi Hills district says it did not find any "specific chemical level" in the water that would poison fish even as it warned that water is "unsafe" for drinking. Seven out of eight samples collected from different locations along the Kynshi river and its feeding streams show "non-indicative of pollution in terms of physio-chemical and pesticides assessment", a probe report, conducted by Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board (MSPCB), said. An observation on water sample collected from Wahplu stream indicated a "significant deterioration of water quality characterised by low pH level (highly acidic) and high concentration of iron and sulphate. "Scientists suspect that the mine run-off caused by coal mining activities along the catchment areas of Wahplu stream as the reason behind the pollution in the river. The water at Wahplu also appeared "yellowish red", a phenomenon caused by acid effluents draining from the coal mines in Nongkulang area, the report said. Scientists, however, ruled out the adverse impact that Wahplu stream will have on River Kulang, where it flows to, as the water discharge of the former is "less significant" as compared to the latter. Water samples collected downstream the point of confluence of Wahplu stream and river Wahblei showed that the acidity and mineral content was normal again. The report also said there was no specific chemical(s) at a level that would cause the death of fishes in all seven samples except that of Wahplu river. The MSPCB has cautioned that the water samples have bacterial counts "beyond" permissible limits and hence not suitable for drinking without pre-treatment.