NUMALIGARH: Under the Assam Fishery Rule 2005, fishing during the months of May, June and July with fishing nets of a certain gauge is prohibited across the State. Despite the ban, egg-laden fish are being sold everywhere within the district. Even multiple incidents of poisoning in the river Dhansiri were reported in the last couple of weeks. Villagers living on the Dhansiri riverside area said that they witnessed many incidents where fishermen put poisonous liquid in the river.
A local youth and member of a bio-diversity conservation NGO, told The Sentinel, "I have witnessed dead fishes and turtles killed by poisoning in the last few days. While some of these fishermen put poisonous liquid containing chemicals in river's upstream portions, another group waits with fishing nets at the downstream areas to catch the poisoned fishes. I have reported it to the department officials several times, but I have no idea why they are not taking any measures! Some powerful persons might be behind these illegal fishing activities during the egg-laden period."
He further said that he was even scolded by some government officials of the departments concerned in the district for repeatedly approaching them and asking for actions against the illegal fishing and poisoning activities in river Dhansiri. This signifies that some influential persons having strong political background might be behind this illegal fishing racket.
Another catastrophic side of these frequent poisoning in the river is also causing concern. More than 50,000 families of Golaghat get drinking water from the water treatment plant situated in the heart of the town. The water treatment plant extracts water from Dhansiri and supplies the treated water to households. It is apprehended that over 50,000 residents of Golaghat town are drinking these same poisonous waters. Nobody is sure whether the poisonous water of river Dhansiri becomes drinkable after going through the treatment facility.
It has been reported that of late the fishermen have been using poisonous chemicals like cyclomethrin and other toxins. Unlike natural plant-based fish poison, these chemical poisonous substances have adverse long-term impact on ecology. Other public water supply plants in the district also extract water from river Dhansiri and after treatment in their facilities supply it to households. But it is still not known whether these water-treatment facilities are capable of removing all the hazardous chemicals from the poisoned waters of the river.
If the authorities concerned do not act upon the matter soon, it is feared that people in huge numbers might fall ill after drinking even the "treated" water that was already poisoned with deadly chemicals by some fishermen.
Meanwhile, fishing activities with other means like fishing nets, hooks, and spears are reportedly continuing in various parts of the district despite the ban. On Monday, Numaligarh Police along with 'Macchya Mitra' Manoj Dutta raided Jathipotia (a riverside area of Dhansiri) and seized a large number of fishing nets, hooks and spears from the fishermen, who were caught red handed when they were fishing and catching egg-laden fishes in river Dhansiri. Concerned locals of the Numaligarh area have lauded the efforts in protecting the fishes and other species living in the river in the aquatic species' egg-laying period during this part of the year.