Since last two days the dead fish floating in Bata river at Balijhara has caused a flutter among the local people and the fishermen community at large prompting the Odisha State Pollution Control Board officials to collect the water samples for tests to ascertain the cause of death.

Activists of Balijhara have collected dead fishes from the said river over the last two days when the administration had not moved in. Though, the exact cause of death of fishes is yet to be ascertained, local people including fishermen have alleged that rivals who had filed write petition in Orissa HC for taking this river on lease from Paradip Municipality for fishing might have poisoned the river water to avenge those who had secured the bid and are now cultivating fish.

It may be recalled that on last 2016, similar incident had happened in Bata River when thousands of dead fishes were found floating. Panic gripped the locals and a team of OSPCB had collected water sample and dead fishes for tests.

Tests then had revealed that lack of oxygen level in the water had caused the death of the fish. President of Balijhara Yuba Parishad Mr Deepak Swain said “after massive death of fishes in 2016, Paradip Municipality had served notice to invite the bidders for giving this river on lease basis for fish cultivation but no one turned up apprehending loss.”

Our Parishad took this river from Paradip Municipality on lease basis on last 2016 and invested Rs 7 lakh for renovation of river and disposal of dead fishes during the period, he added.

Mr Swain has informed that after taking this river on lease basis for fish cultivation, rivals had filed a petition in the High Court challenging the 2016 lease deed.

The court had issued an interim stay on fish cultivation in 2017 as a result of which neither lease holders nor rivals were operating. But despite the stay some people were fishing and the parishad members had eized nets four days ago.

Local fishermen, slum dwellers and others have alleged that it is handiwork of miscreants. Tonnes of dead fish have been removed since last two days. The municipal administration has not taken any action to remove the dead fish or clean the river, they alleged.

Regional Officer of OSPCB, Paradip Mr Mukesh Mahaling confirmed the death of fish in large numbers and said he is awaiting the water sample test report.