Mansar (Samba), Feb 9 (PTI) The tranquil waters of Mansar Lake in Jammu and Kashmir’s Samba district have turned into a somber scene as nearly 3,000 fish have perished in the last few days, causing distress and concern among local residents of administration, officials on Friday said.
The Wildlife department attributed the cause of the huge number of fishes to the consumption of hailstones during recent rains, they said.
"They have died after eating for a few days during rains. They mistook hail for flour balls, and allowed them. People feed them with flour balls on a daily basis as religious sanctity" Block officer Wildlife department Mansar, Dheeraj Rampal, told PTI.
There was a rain storm in the Mansar area on February First, he said.
The officials put the figures of dead fishes at 2,500 to 3,000.
In the past years too, fishes have died of cold or oxygen deficiency, he said.
Hundreds of dead fish were found floating on the surface of Mansar, the largest freshwater lake in the Shivalik mountain range of Jammu and Kashmir.
Protected under the Ramsar Convention, shocked locals and tourists have been witnessing dead carp fish floating on the water surface and near the lake banks for the past one week.
"We woke up to see a large number of dead fishes floating in the lake on February two. It was a heartening scene. We are concerned about it," Dina Nath, a local resident, said.
The water body, some 45 kilometers from Jammu and falling in Samba district, is a popular tourist destination attracting nearly a million visitors every year.
Expressing concern, locals reported the ongoing phenomenon, stating, for the past few days, we have been witnessing a continuous die-off, with hundreds of fish already lost, and the removal process is ongoing.
Pankaj Sharma - a local, who runs a shop on the banks of Mansar lake, said that fishes have started dying since the first of February.
"We have been engaged in removing the dead fishes since February First. We will continue to remove all the dead fishes. It is a holy place connected with Sheshnag and has reference to Mahabharat", Sharma said.
Efforts by the Wildlife Department to mitigate the situation are underway, with personnel diligently removing and burying the deceased fish to prevent pollution and potential epidemics.
"Every day we are removing 4 to 5 trollies of dead fish from the lake. The more we remove dead fish from the lake, the more they come up. We don't know the total number of dead fishes but the task to remove them has been going on for the past one week. We are burying them away from the lake", Wildlife department labourer, Room Raj, told PTI.
The officials also pointed out other reasons for the death of fishes and said that intense cold and natural factors may have led to decreased oxygen levels in the water, resulting in the fish fatalities. PTI AB AS AS