In a troubling development for the residents of Manipur, the gates of a dam in the state were abruptly closed today following the discovery of a black, oil-like substance contaminating the Iril river in Imphal East district. The incident has reignited fears of water contamination, coming less than a month after an oil leak from a disused heavy-fuel power plant had polluted another river in the region.
The Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) took swift action in response to the alarming discovery, shutting the dam gates to contain the polluted water from spreading further downstream. PHED Minister Susindro Meitei, accompanied by a team of engineers, personally inspected the contaminated area, underscoring the gravity of the situation. Water samples were promptly collected from multiple locations along the river and dispatched to various laboratories for analysis, as confirmed by the PHED in an official statement.
Initial assessments revealed that the black substance seemed to be concentrated at a specific section of the Iril river. While preliminary testing indicated that all parameters were within permissible limits for untreated water, further analysis in advanced laboratories is deemed necessary to ascertain the extent of the contamination and its potential impact on the environment and public health.
Authorities have issued advisories to villagers residing near the dam and the affected river, urging them to remain vigilant and promptly report any suspicious incidents. Residents of Leitanpokpi Awang Leikai, a valley area located approximately 30 km from the state capital Imphal, were the first to notice the presence of the black substance in the river. Concerned for their safety, they immediately ceased using the water and alerted district officials to the situation.
The Iril river’s catchment area encompasses the hill ranges of Saikul in the neighboring Kangpokpi district, emphasizing the need for comprehensive monitoring and remediation efforts to safeguard the region’s water resources.
Manipur continues to grapple with socio-political tensions stemming from ethnic conflicts, further exacerbating the challenges posed by environmental incidents like the recent oil leak from the Leimakhong heavy-fuel power plant. Investigations into the cause of the oil leak are ongoing, with authorities probing potential instances of sabotage amidst growing concerns over the safety and integrity of critical infrastructure.
As the investigation unfolds, the residents of Manipur remain hopeful for swift and decisive action to address the root causes of these environmental crises and mitigate their adverse effects on local communities and ecosystems.