Lukha: Meghalaya River Brought Back From The Dead, Claims Government

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Lukha river Turning Blue, Courtesy - Circle of Blue
  • NET Bureau

Amidst reports of human activities adversely affecting the rivers and forests of Meghalaya, a piece of welcome news has come as a ray of hope for the people. The Meghalaya government has claimed that a detoxing pilot project has brought a river back from the dead.

The Lukha — “reservoir of fish” in the local Pnar language — was considered toxic beyond redemption a decade ago. The Meghalaya Pollution Control Board had in its 2012 investigative report blamed the contamination on acid mine drainage and run-off from the coal mines.

The Lukha river is in the East Jaintia Hills district where most of Meghalaya’s rat-hole coal mines are located.

Forest and Environment Minister James Sangma said the pilot project to rejuvenate the Lukha by using algae to remove toxic contents from the water has become a success. The detoxification process is called phycoremediation.

“Phycoremediation has improved the pH level of a critical stretch of the river. Enthused by the success of the rejuvenation process, we are going to upscale this pilot project to the rest of Lukha and other rivers as well,” he said.

Phycoremediation or microalgae cultivation using sewage with industrial flue gases is a promising concept for integrated nutrient removal and sequestration respectively with subsequent biomass generation in order to control environmental pollution.

Environmentalists in Meghalaya and elsewhere have been raising an alarm over the contamination of the Lukha, marked by dead fish found afloat frequently and the colour of the water turning either blue or yellow.