‘Uranium drilling not cause of fish deaths’

Shillong, Apr 19: PTI | 01:04 AM,Apr 20,2012

The official probe into the fish deaths at a river near Indo-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya has ruled out exploratory drilling for uranium as the cause of the deaths, officials said today.

Geologists R B Surong and E Nongbri submitted their report to the state government today.

“The findings of the report has clearly stated that the death of fish occurred only in river Kynshi and not in river Rilang which are the two river sources that converge at Ranikor river,” Deputy Chief Minister B M Lanong told reporters.

Elaborating more on the findings of the probe, Lanong said the water flowing from Wah Rilang was “crystal clear” while the water from Kynshi was found to be “muddy, reddish brown in colour and having lots of impurities”.

Lanong, who also holds charge of Mining & Geology department, quoted the report saying, “Contamination may be due to the presence of a number of tributaries flowing from various areas having coal mines and coal depot from villages like Maweit, Diengngan, Mawhar and Nongjri besides others.”

“The dead fish did not show any marks on the body of fish which should be the effect of uranium radiation,” Lanong said. Experts also argued that if it is attributed to mining of coal and other minerals, the impact should have been seen the whole year through and not only on a specific day.

The report further stated that another possibility may be due to toxicity of the river where local people use toxic substances for catching fishes for commercial purposes, the Deputy Chief Minister said. The probe also recommended a detailed investigation to ascertain the cause of death of fishes.

“Analysing of the water sample and post-mortem of the dead fishes and other necessary examination needs to be done by experts and well equipped laboratories in order to ascertain the death of fishes,” Lanong said. Meanwhile, water samples from rivers in West Khasi Hills district have been collected for further testing. Several thousand fish were found floating dead at Ranikor river, some 140 km from here, last Friday.

The fish deaths have created a panic among residents and NGO blamed the exploratory drilling of uranium in the upstream as the reason behind the incident.