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Tripura: Dead fish spark resentment against ONGC, Fisheries Dept

In a growing financial and ecological crisis that has stunned local communities in Tripura, Padmadhepa Lake's fish population, valued in the lakhs of rupees, is facing untimely death.

Fish farmers affiliated with the 'Brothers Group Limited' – who are incurring huge losses - are pointing their fingers at a nearby ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation) project as the source of their woes, alleging that the discharge of toxic liquid waste is driving their precious catch to untimely deaths.

This distressing situation is far from a one-off event; it has become an unsettling annual ritual, typically exacerbated by the monsoon season. Fishermen, who rely on the lake for their livelihoods, reveal that poisonous liquid waste from the ONGC Khedabari project is infiltrating the lake's pristine waters, leading to not only considerable financial losses but also an overpowering stench that engulfs the entire region, rendering it unfit for habitation.

For several years now, these instances of mass fish mortality have plagued the lake's ecosystem, with fishermen staunchly contending that the Khedabari project is the primary culprit behind the environmental disaster. While the financial implications for the fish farmers are dire, it is the pungent odor and the distressing sight of deceased fish that weigh heavily on the local residents.

"This has been happening for the past few years, especially during the rainy season. This year also, dead fish started floating in huge numbers for the last 5-6 days. Apart from the financial losses, foul smell engulfed the entire area making it difficult for the residents to stay in their residences," decried the beleaguered fishermen.

The fishermen insist that the extensive loss of fish in the lake is a direct result of the dumping of poisonous materials, believed to be emanating from the ONGC Khedabari project. These complaints, though, have seemingly fallen on deaf ears, despite repeated notifications to both ONGC authorities and Fisheries Department officials, fishermen alleged.

"We went to inform the ONGC authority. But they did not give any importance to our issues. They never tried to inspect the reality or conduct any investigation. So also is the case with the Fisheries Department," locals claimed.

As the death toll of fish escalates, the once-quiet discontent among the local community is now verging on open rebellion against the authorities responsible for the environmental devastation. Calls for legal action against ONGC are intensifying, with many others planning to launch vociferous protests in a bid to command the administration's attention.

Reactions from either the ONGC or the Fisheries Department were not available.  

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