Fish, Fisheries, Fisherfolk

WFD 2022: Mass Fish Deaths in Lakes, Ponds in India

(Feature Image: Workers remove the dead fish at the regulatory end of Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh on July 23, 2022. Express photo)

On the occasion of World Fisheries Day (WFD) 2022, we here highlight the mass fish death incidents India in inland water bodies including lakes and ponds over the last one year. The first part of this series on WFD 2022 covered the positive stories of rivers’ fish and fishermen; the second part tracked critical issues affecting rivers’ fish and fishermen. The fourth part would focus on worsening plight but ongoing struggle of coastal and inland fisherfolks. The fifth and last part on the series would highlight issues concerning aquatic bio-diversity in the country.    

Explainer What’s causing mass fish death in India’s ponds and lakes? The primary cause for this phenomenon is water pollution, most often stemming from anthropogenic activities. A key parameter of water quality is dissolved oxygen which can indicate the capacity of a water body to support aquatic life. In a survey of water bodies across six Indian states, not a single water body had a dissolved oxygen range, where all fish can survive.  (19 July 2022)

Why pre-monsoon showers lead to fish kill cases in Lakes. The transition from winter to summer season causes an approximately 10 degrees rise in ambient temperature. The higher temperature increase the rate at which oxygen is depleted from the water body which in turn promotes algal growth. Moreover, the first rains bring additional pollutants from non-point sources (i.e. more widespread run-off and not effluents from sewage lines alone) from across the catchment, providing even more organic matter for microorganisms to break down by consuming the oxygen dissolved in water.

Factors affecting deoxygenation and re-aeration rates. Pic credit: Priyanka Jamwal/ Citizen Matters

In addition, low wind speed during the summer and pre-monsoon weeks significantly reduces the rate at which oxygen is added to the lake, thereby leading to large-scale fish kills.  (05 July 2022)

BENGALURU 8 instances of fish kill in 7 months of 2022  In an alarming trend, a total of 8 instances of fish kill were reported in Bengaluru lakes within 7 months of 2022, surpassing the annual fish kill numbers in the last five years. A report, ‘Fishkill in Lakes of Bengaluru (2017-2022)’, released by ActionAid, shows that while 6 incidents were reported in 2017 and 2018, the numbers came down during the lockdown years between 2019 and 2021. In the last 5 years, a total of 32 cases of fish kill were identified in the city. This report is a secondary research, taking news reports as the database.

The report has also identified four vulnerable lakes which are prone to fish kill, based on the frequency of incidents. Entry of sewage seems to be the most common factor in most of these incidents; it has been identified as the main reason for 51% of the cases of fish kill in lakes. This is followed by toxins and chemicals which accounted for 23%.  (12 July 2022)  (27 Aug. 2022)

Hundreds of fish die in Jakkur, Rachenahalli lakes  Several lakes in Bangalore, including the latest ones Jakkur and Rachenahalli lakes in North Bangalore have reported death of hundreds of fish. It is said that this is due to the heavy inflow of sewage and solid waste brought to the lakes by the recent floods. (3 Dec 2021)

Dead fish were seen floating in Rachenahalli lake and Jakkur lake in Bangalore North. Image Source: TIE

Experts blamed the inflow of sewage water into the water bodies. This comes after a similar incident in Oct at Muthanallur lake in Anekal. (3 Dec 2021)

Fish kill in Horamavu-Agara lake The State Pollution Control Board has issued a notice to the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board seeking an explanation on why sewage has been entering the Horamavu-Agara lake which has resulted in the death of fish. Last year too, hundreds of dead fish were found floating in Muthanallur lake and Rachenahalli lake which, officials said, was caused by the flow of sewage into the lake.  (01 March 2022)

Fish death in Mahadevpura lake Thousands of fish were found dead at Mahadevapura Lake due to inflow of contaminated water after the heavy downpour on May 1 2022. Residents who found dead fish floating on the surface reached out to the SPCB for assistance.  (06 May 2022)

Haralur Lake looks drained, out of life Haralur Lake, a threatened biodiversity habitat and a recreational site for 30,000 residents of ward 150, is in a deteriorating state. From sewage entering the lake to improper walking tracks, residents had a lot to complain about. They said sewage being released into the lake is causing fish to die and causing a foul stench too.  (14 May 2022)

Sewage into Haralur Lake causes loss of aquatic life Located in Bellandur, last week, dead fish were seen floating on the surface of the waterbody. Ravi, superintendent engineer, BBMP, said, “The BWSSB is yet to lay the sanitary pipelines and this is the reason due to which sewage flows into the network of storm water drains.”  (15 May 2022)

Dead fish found AGAIN floating at Haralur Lake Nearly 1,000 fish were found floating in Haralur Lake near HSR Layout on Sept. 12 2022. This is the second instance of fish kill in the lake this year and fourth in the past five years. The 35-acre Haralur Lake, activists say, is in bad condition and SPCB has to test the water quality immediately.  (14 Sept. 2022)

Sewage flow causes fish kill in Haralur lake 3-4 tonnes of fish have been reported dead in the past 3-4 days. The overflowing of toxic sewage into the lake is being regarded as the primary cause of the incident. Haralur Lake volunteer Amardeep Adiga said that the drain which should carry rainwater is carrying toxic sewage water.  (15 Sep 2022)

Ill-maintained Seegehalli LakeThe Seegehalli Lake that was slowly getting in better shape after fishkill due to sewage in 2018, but the recent rain saw a torrent of trash being dragged into the lake.  (20 May 2022)

Bhattarahalli lake Hundreds of dead fish mysteriously washed up on the edge of the lake on May 31. A BBMP engineer who inspected the lake after the incident ruled out sewage entry into the lake and said the water being discharged from the STP is up to the mark.  (12 June 2022)

Dead fish pulled out of Kothanur Lake in JP Nagar 8th Phase on April 1. Credit: DH Photo

Kothanur Lake: Mass fish death due to sewage pollution The sight of fish dying in Kothanur Lake in southern Bengaluru has once again raised the issue of sewage being discharged into waterbodies. Residents of JP Nagar 8th Phase have blamed broken sewage lines and the absence of diversion channels for the contamination of the lake water. Activists and residents said authorities failed to fix the issue despite numerous representations. Officials said a meeting would be held with the BBMP officials to find a permanent solution to save the lake from overflowing sewage.  (04 April 2022)

Kothanur Lake AGAIN: Fish swim away to a watery grave It is too late for fish in the Kothnur Lake as many died due to the poor quality of water in the lake. Experts say that the lake had been receiving sewage water for quite some time now. Raghavendra B Pacchapur, a member of ActionAid, an NGO, said that the fish that died were Tilapia fish.  (23 Aug. 2022)

Entry of sewage The SPCB has said that it happened because sewage had entered the lake. An activist named Raghavendra Pachhapura said the industries don’t follow the norms, because of which these incidents happen. Earlier in March also, fishes had died in the wetlands, but this time the incident has taken place in a large water body. KSPCB revealed in a water quality analysis that 36 waterbodies are not suited for aquatic life. According to the data, between 2017, and 2022, a total of 32 fish-kill incidents were reported in Bengaluru, raising concerns among environmentalists.  (26 Aug. 2022)

Revival hopes for Rampura lake Just two decades ago, Rampura in east Bengaluru — which is just around 18 km from the city centre — was a thriving fishing village frequented by tourists and locals alike. As the IT city started growing exponentially, it witnessed the slow death of many lakes, including the sewage-fed Rampura lake, destroying both the fish habitat and the livelihood of fishermen. While the rejuvenation work has given hope to residents, many expressed concerns over the slow pace of work and BBMP’s failure to clear encroachments. The inlet, which receives water from Kalkere lake, is found to be frothing, indicating the poor quality of water treatment upstream. A few residents want the BBMP to be more transparent in its plans.  (12 June 2022)

Udupi Pond in Kotilingeshwara temple polluted, fish die Pond (Pushkarini) of the temple is considered as sacred. However, the pond of the renowned Kotilingeshwara temple in Koteshwara is polluted and the fish in the pond are dying. Sewage water is getting mixed into the pond from the north eastern side of the lake. A white layer is seen on the surface of the water.  (09 Oct. 2022)

Dakshin Kanada A large number of fish were found dead at Kuvetty in Belthangady Taluk on March 14. It is said that a chemical reaction might have caused the fishes’ deaths. For the past few days, local residents had noticed that the color of the lake had changed and recently found dead fish washing up on shore.  (14 March 2022)

Carcasses of fish washed ashore at Korattur lake on Monday. | Photo Credit: K. PICHUMANI/ The Hindu

Chennai Fish kill at Korattur lake Dead fish were washed ashore at Korattur Lake on May 9 2022. A large number of carcasses of fish were found near Water Canal Road. Residents and activists raised concern on pollution in the lake and wanted improvement work to be carried out soon. (9 May 2022)

Vellore A large number of fish were found dead in the moat of the 16th century granite fort in Vellore, mainly due to depletion in the oxygen level in the water. Officials of the Dept of Fisheries said that most of the fish that were found dead in the moat was Jalebi fish (zoological name: Tilapia fillets). The fish is a common variety from fresh and brackish waterbodies. Over 50 kg of fish were removed from the moat by the department.

Residents said unauthorised discharge of sewage water especially along the canal into the moat might be a major reason for the depletion of oxygen-level in the water, resulting in the death of the fish. Due to heavy rain during last monsoon, the moat received good inflow of water from neighbouring Suriyakulam lake and other waterbodies, helping in the growth of fish. With the temperature touching around 40 degree celsius, the water level in the moat has reduced forcing the Fisheries Department to net fish from the moat every day, officials said.  (23 April 2022)

Perambalur Alarmed by the death of hundreds of fishes in a lake spread over 980 acres at Ladapuram in the district over the past ten days, locals seek immediate intervention of the authorities to discover the cause and restore the waterbody. The lake fed by Pachamalai Hills and maintained by the Public Works Department irrigates about 700 acres in the village. The waterbody, however, dried up over the years owing to a lack of maintenance.

Rain spells in the past two years changed the situation with the lake again for the better, allowing villagers to cultivate paddy and fish to thrive in it. The fish in the lake floating dead in the hundreds over the past few days have hence come as a shock to the villagers, who soon alerted the Ladapuram VAO, panchayat, and the PWD of the unusual sight.  (11 April 2022)

Hyderabad Fish choke to death The recent deluge in the city has led to scores of fish dying in the Regulkunta lake in Deepthisrinagar, after water from the uphill Serilingampally dumping yard (1.5 kms away) started flowing into the water. Parts of the lake turned black due to this. Fish started dying 4-5 days back and are still lying around raising a strong stench adding to the smell of water from the dumping yard. Over 4 lakh fingerlings were released into the lake around 6 months back and the fishermen dependant on the lake are now a worried lot. They fear that majority of the fish are already dead or will die in the coming days due to polluted water from the dumpyard entering the lake.  (16 July 2022)

Visakhapatnam A large number of dead fish found floating in a pond at Parawada created a flutter on Sept. 13, 2021. Farmers, who farmed fish in the water body, locally known as Pedda Cheruvu, alleged that industrial units in the area had polluted it.  Expressing concern over the alleged pollution of the tank water, the farmers said though they had brought the issue to the notice of officials any measure to mitigate the problem was yet to be taken.

Fisheries joint director P Lakshmana Rao said a few months ago fish in large number died en masse at Rushikonda Beach due to depletion of oxygen. “Generally, private aqua farmers aerate the tanks to increase its oxygen level. However, Parawada farmers may not have the equipment to aerate the tank.”  (14 Sept. 2021)

Mumbai Dead fish were found near the gym in the wetland area in Sector 17, Kharghar on June 3 2022.  (04 June 2022)

Dead fish at Dhamanpur lake. Sachin Desai, Indie Journal

Sidhudurg Dead fish sightings at heritage lake reflect govt neglect Environmentalists and locals raised an alarm after brackish water and dead fish were sighted at the Dhamapur Lake in Sindhudurg district for the last two-three days. While the exact reason behind this is unclear, researchers point out that the condition reflects government apathy and lack of conservation in this biodiversity-rich water body.  (06 May 2022)

Goa In a shocking incident, fish in large quantities were found dead inside the ‘Khazan’ water at ‘Nokzonn’, Vanxem-Loutolim, near the Borim Bridge. People suspecte it is due to the discharge of chemicals into the water by some unknown person. This is the second such incident reported in the locality in recent days.  (28 Sept. 2022)

Fish found dead in Vaddem lake again.  (22 April 2022)

Indore Contamination led to fish deaths in Govidpura Lake A preliminary investigation into the death of scores of fish in the Govidpura lake has reasoned that the deaths could possibly have been caused due to contamination and the scorching summer. Thousands of dead fish were found floating in the lake a few weeks ago. Free Press had prominently raised the issue on April 12 to attract the attention of the local administration.  (29 April 2022)  (27 April 2022)  (28 April 2022)

Indore Again Thousands of fish have been found dead in Annapurna pond of Indore. The incident came to light when the stench of dead fish made it difficult for passers-by to pass through the area. It is reported that 60,000-70,000 fish have been found dead in the pond in the last three days. A complaint has been made to the Indore Municipal Corporation about the incident.   Prahlad Prajapat, an employee of the civil park, has alleged that people associated with fish business intentionally poison the pond water to kill the fish. Then, they steal the dead fish and sell it in the market. He suspect that a poisonous medicine used to pollute the water resulted in the death of the fish.  According to residents, this was the second instance of fish kill in the lake this year.  (09 Oct. 2022)

Bhopal Fish are dying mysteriously in Bagmufti Hussain pond. The whole pond is filled with dead fish causing foul smell in the surrounding area. The reasons are not being disclosed. The water in pond is of poor quality and receives sewage from nearby by households.  (13 May 2022)  (09 May 2022)

Jabalpur Scores of fish were found dead in due to pollution in Ranital pond. The surrounding area of the pond is covered with houses which drain out sewage and other polluted water in the pond.  (13 May 2022)

Pali Hundreds of fish died due to lack of water in the pond of Mandali village located near the city. Water coming from Jawai Dam is stored in Mandali pond. But at present the Jawai Dam is lying vacant.  (14 March 2022)

Jaisalmer Hundreds of fish died after closure of Indira Gandhi canal which dried up the canal and subsequently killing the fish in large number.  (Feb. 2022)

Amroha Thousands of fish died in a pond of under Hasanpur area due to poisoning of pond water. The victim has demanded action from the police, accusing the unknown of putting poisonous substances in the pond.  (23 Oct. 2022)

Lucknow Hundreds of fish were found dead in the lake of Butler Palace Colony.  (21 March 2022)

Siwan Fish worth Rs 8 lakh were found dead in a private pond of Katwar Chavar in Siwan’s Daronda police station area. The fisherman informed about this to the local police station. It is believed that someone has put poison in the pond, due to which the fish have died.  (01 May 2022)

Begusarai In Baripura ward number 1 Bhakova Bahiyar under Veerpur police station area, anti-social elements poisoned a fish pond resulting in death of fish worth over Rs three lakh.  (02 July 2022)

Dead fish in Ramchandrapur village pond. Image Source: Hindustan News Hub

Gopalganj A fish pond poisoning incident happened in Ramchandrapur village under Thawe police station rendering lakhs of fish dead.  (12 Aug. 2022)

Supaul Some unknown people poisoned a fish pond in Koshikapur villager killing thousands of fish and causing financial losses to fishermen.  (21 Feb. 2022)

Madhubani Thousands of fish died in a pond near Harlakhi police station after it was contaminated with illicit liquor which was seized and destroyed by the police.  (05 July 2022)

Hazipur A similar incident took place in Hazipur district  (02 July 2021)

Vaishali A similar incident in Vaishali district.  (30 June 2021)

Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) is planning to pump liquid oxygen into Rabindra Sarobar’s water to increase the dissolved oxygen content in the lake water and prevent the death of fish. Even on Nov. 23 2022, morning walkers reported sighting of dead fish floating in the water. The dissolved oxygen experiment comes after KMDA had to dismantle three fountains that it had set up in the lake to increase aeration after vociferous protests from rowing clubs that use the lake. The fountains had posed a threat to the safety of rowers and their equipment.

Environmentalists have been saying that taking up lake management strategies like nutrient remediation, aeration and hydro-raking can help prolong the lifespan of the water body for many years. “The authorities can consider coming up with a lake conservation policy like taking steps to remove the toxic layer from the top soil of the lake and planting more fruit trees,” said environmentalist Somendra Mohan Ghosh, a lake regular.  (24 Nov. 2021)

Dead fish along with plastic waste were again spotted floating on the Rabindra Sarobar waterbody. ” It’s been over three months since KMDA had organised a workshop to discuss ways and frame a methodology to improve the sarobar waterbody’s quality but nothing has been done till date,” said environmentalist Somendra Mohan Ghosh, a lake regular.

Jadavpur University water resources engineering Professor Asis Mazumdar said that it is normally during these two months of August and September that such occurrence of fish dying occurs. “August and September are the two most critical months when such incidents occur. The reason as to why the fish are dying needs to be known,” Mazumdar said.

Dead fish floating in Yamkeshwar Sarovar. Image Souce: Dainik Jagran

Ambala Famous Yamkeshwar Sarovar turned into graveyard for fish following depletion in water level.  (14 May 2022)

Earlier in May 2022, different service providers and environment experts had come up with their suggestions on using advanced technologies to purify and improve the quality of the 73 acre wide sarobar waterbody like injecting oxygen in the waterbody, nanobubble technology, bioremediation and cownomics technology which have been used in different lakes and waterbodies in the country. Recent studies have shown that the sarobar waterbody is a mesotrophic lake where about 15 mm of sedimentation has been formed.  (30 Aug. 2022)

Jind Hundreds of fish turned dead in city’s historic Rani Talab due to decline in flows. Locals blamed the indifferent attitude of the administration for not filling the pond with fresh water in the last one and a half years.  (06 May 2022)

Bhiwani Thousands of dead fish were found dead in Mirdwana Johad located on Dhana Road causing foul smell and health concerns among locals.  (23 Jan. 2022) 

Fazilka Hundreds of fish were found dead in the water tank at an orchard in Diwankhera village. On the invitation of progressive farmer Ajay Wadhwa, Rajya Sabha member Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal had visited the village this week as farmers complained that canal water had been short in supply and contaminated water was being provided to tail-end villages. Wadhwa said hundreds of fish were found dead in the reservoir he developed to save ‘kinnow’ fruit plants from drying.  (10 July 2022)

Chandigarh A large number of dead fish were found at the Kisangarh choe near the regulatory end of Sukhna Lake. Animal Husbandry Department Joint Director Dr Kanwarjit said during rains, a lot of silt and muddy water enters the lake which results in less oxygen. “This is believed to be the reason behind their death. However, the forest department is collecting samples of dead fish for further examination,” he added.  (23 July 2022)

Fishery department workers pulling out dead fish from Kishangarh choe near the regulatory end of Sukhna lake. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan

Dr Kanwarjit, said “It is a common phenomenon. During heavy rain in this part, dead fish are found due to dirty water. Also, some fish get stuck in muddy water and die when the floodgates of the lake are opened,” said the official.  (24 July 2022) This was the second such case reported in the last one week.  (24 July 2022)

Pulwama Fish die in Fashkoori wetland Pampore Many fish were found dead in Fashkoori wetland in Saffron town Pampore area of Pulwama district on July 8 2022. Some dead fish weighed more than 2-3 kg. The Fashkoori wetland is spread over 2 kilometers from Namlabal to Tulbagh in the Saffron. Thousands of migratory birds visit Fashkoori wetland during winter. Locals said that they have been noticing dead fish floating to the shore from some days.  (09 July 2022)

Jammu A case of fish dying under suspicious circumstances has come to light in a pond in Ward-6 of Nagrota Prehta. This pond was built three years ago. Panchayat representatives had put fish seeds in the pond with the fisheries department. After the death of the fish, it is feared that some person has put poisonous substance in the water of the pond, but the person has not been identified yet.  (03 Nov. 2022)

Sikkim Officials visited the popular Karthok Lake in Yuksam to examine the cause of death of fishes. Local residents had spotted dead fish floating on water recently and informed the sub-divisional officials about it. The residents suspected the sudden drop in temperature to be the cause. While the officials have said, after the analysis of the lake water, that all parameters are within the permissible limit, except turbidity, they have suggested that the reason for the deaths of fishes could be due to the reduced oxygen level. The local people and local monks’ body have appealed people not to release fish into the lake from now onwards. People release fish into this lake on religious occasions due to religious sentiments.  (30 Jan. 2022)

Assam People across state had to endure a huge loss of wealth owing to the extensive flooding that affected their houses, roads, farms, and paddy fields for several days. Fishery owners also had to suffer significant loss as the fish were washed away by the rising water level. According to Dr Pratul Barman, fishery officer of Barpeta, about 18,629 ponds in Barpeta were damaged and the fish managed to escape.

The rising water level and increasing water currents helped the fish escape from the ponds.  According to an estimate by the department of district fisheries of Barpeta, the fisheries of the district collectively suffered losses worth Rs one crore. Usually the ponds in the district collectively produce 26,000 metric tons, which is enough to meet the needs of the entire population of Barpeta.  (13 July 2022)

Bhim Singh Rawat (

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