A delegation of the Narpuh unit of the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) on December 21, 2020, met E. Kharmalki, deputy commissioner of East Jaintia Hills district, and submitted a memorandum demanding an ‘independent inquiry’ into the issue.
The KSU members told the deputy commissioner that the most beautiful river of East Jaintia hills district turns ‘blue’ every winter since 2007.
“Thousands of fish have died and the water is no longer fit for drinking,” the KSU said in its memorandum.
The KSU alleged that the Lukha River changing colour into ‘blue’ is due to the release of untreated effluents by cement factories in the area.
“Many in the area blame the cement factories for the changing colour the river water,” the KSU said, while demanding for an immediate ‘scientific solution’ to the problem.
The KSU deadline will end on January 9. However, the students’ organization did not spell out its future course of action if the government fails to initiate any step with the sett deadline.
In 2012, the KSU had registered a complaint with the administration of Jaintia hills district about the changing colour of Lukha in East Jaintia hills district.
The students’ organization is not happy because the government did not take any concrete step to identify the cause of the ‘mysterious blue’ colour of river Lukha in East Jaintia hills district.
Many studies were undertaken, including one by the North East Hill University (NEHU) during the last few years to study the changing colour of Lukha River.
And, all the studies had revealed that aggressive limestone mining activities around the area have adversely affected the water quality of river Lukha.
Since 2005, there has been major limestone mining activities near Umdoh and Lumshnong areas in East Jaintia hills district of Meghalaya.
It was reported that prima facie investigations have revealed that two cement factories — Topcem Cement and Star Cement — were responsible for the pollution in the river system.
The area of Thangskai and Lumshnong has the highest density of cement factories in Northeast India
Meghalaya has around 15,100 million tons of limestone reserves, and exploitation limestone has been taking place on a large scale since 2005.
Lukha flows in the southern part of East Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya, and was always rated as one of the most beautiful and finest clean water rivers in Northeast India.
The river flows by Sonapur village and then descends into the Surma valley and ultimately ends up in the flood plains of Bangladesh.
It receives water from the rivulet Lunar (Wah Lunar) and small streams draining from the Narpuh Reserve Forest and the undulating hills of the area while flowing down.