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Toxic threat: Ash-coloured prawns reveal high chemical deposition in Ennore backwaters
Different species of prawns found in the backwaters of Ennore and Pazhaverkadu are now missing with local fishermen complaining of sambal era (ash-coloured prawns), which is said to be toxic and not edible. According to environmentalists and marine biologists who are studying the ecosystem in the locality, there has been an alarming level of coal ash deposition in backwaters.
“In my 30 years as a toxic tourist, I have travelled to the most abused parts of the world. But nowhere have I seen the sheer impunity with which corporate offenders desecrate a water body as we see it happening in Ennore with the Kosasthalai River’s backwaters. on Monday, I met K Veeramani, an inland fisherman from Sivanpadaiveethikuppam, and enquired about his day in the water. He said that he just got some sambal era,” read a social media post by environmental activist Nityanand Jayaraman triggering naturalists and ecologists to discuss the marine pollution that has been going unchecked along the Ennore creek.
“Besides ash, hot water is often released by the nearby refineries and industries into Ennore creek and there are stretches of the creek, where the algae presence is zero. This means there is no survival scope for phytoplanktons and zooplanktons that are essential for the fish larva to feed and grow,” said marine biotechnologist Marudhu Pandian, who is also a consultant for government marine research institutes. During high and low tides, the Ennore fishermen had active business, but now as things have changed, they have started looking for other jobs.
“The Ennore ecosystem is changing due to turbidity, increase in Ammonia and Nitrate levels. The stress tolerance levels of fishes are also broken leading to extinction or migration,” Maruthu Pandian explained. “Fishermen of six fishing villages depending on prawn, fish and crab in Ennore have lost their livelihood due to fly ash and industrial waste. Once there were more than 30 varieties of fish found, which has now reduced to single digit.,” said Desingh, a fisherman in Ennore.