Why Is Lukha River In Meghalaya Mysteriously Turning Blue?
It has been witnessed that with heavy pollution and poison at its confluence with the Lunar river, the Lukha turns mysteriously blue as it flows downstream. Rampant mining activities and effluents discharged from cement plants had rendered the river dead. The slow death was a result of acid mine drainage into the river.
Meghalaya, one of the beautiful states of north east India is endowed with natural resources, streams and rivers as well as mineral resources such as coal, limestone, clay, sillimanite, uranium, and more.
Illegal coal mining is rampant in Meghalaya. The estimated coal reserve in Meghalaya is around 576.48 million tonnes while limestone reserves are around 15,100 million tonnes. Exploitation of coal and limestone has been taking place on a large scale in the state.
Where is Lukha River Located
The Lukha is located in the southern part of east Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya. It receives water from the Lunar river (Wah Lunar) and small streams draining from the Narpuh Reserve Forest and the undulating hills of the area while flowing down. The river is mainly fed by monsoon rain and flows in the south-west direction and later takes a southern path after joining the Lunar river near the Khaddum village. The river passes via the Sonapur village and then into the Surma valley and ultimately ends up in the floodplains of Bangladesh.
Why Is Lukha River Turning Blue
The overall water quality of the river was found to be poor and this was attributed to the activities such as mining of limestone and manufacturing of cement in the catchment area of the river. It was found that the pollution of the Lukha river was mainly due to high pollution of the Lunar river upstream that joined the Lukha near the Sonapur village. The water of the upstream Lunar river was found to be highly acidic, with high turbidity levels, high electrical conductivity, high concentration of total hardness, calcium and sulfate in water due to pollution from limestone and cement industries
The local people of this region have witnessed a change in the color of the river water gradually over the years and the water turns more blue during the winters specially near Sonapur village. The water in the river turns deep blue during the months of December, January and February and stays so till the monsoon when high rainfall dilutes the pollutants.
The toxicity of the river has disrupted the entire economic ecosystem. Fishing was a lifeline for over 60% of the residents living downstream of the river. Now, everything is lost.
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We hope that this beautiful river is restored and it is back to its glory. There have been steps taken by the state government and various local bodies including NGOs but the progress has been slow. But hope it is better late than never
Photos contributed by Rizvi Ullah
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