The main reason behind the extinction of a critically endangered fish species in Bangladesh's Sylhet district has been suspected to be Meghalaya's Toxic 'blue' river Lukha.
As the Lukha River flows into Bangladesh about 8 km south of Sonapur in the hills of East Jaintia, it is known as Lubachhara in Bangladesh, reports Northeast Now.
A report compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) called the Red List of Bangladesh stated that habitat loss could have caused the Lukha River fish species- Goalpara Loach (scientific name: Neoeucirrhichthys maydelli) - to become extinct.
During the winter months, Lukha turns 'deep blue' in colour due to discharges from limestone mines and cement factories around Thangskai and Lumshnong in the Meghalaya district of East Jaintia hills.
The Khasi Students' Union (KSU) blamed the cement firms for polluting Lukha, and set a three-week deadline for the government of Meghalaya to determine and address the exact cause of the pollution.
Though Lukha's 'toxic' water killed aquatic flora and fauna, two cement firms, Topcem Cement and Star Cement, were accused of 'polluting' the river system.
In East Jaintia hills district of Meghalaya, Topcem Cement and Star Cement are the largest producers of cement.
Topcem Cement has its production unit at Umdoh near Thangskai, and its mines are at South Khliehjri. Star Cement has its unit at Lumshnong.
Members of the Narpuh Unit of KSU alleged that the water of Lukha started to turn blue from 2007.
Star Cement had started production from 2004, while Topcem Cement started production in 2006.
While the KSU alleged that several endangered species of flora and fauna perished in the 'toxic' water of Lukha, it has been reported that Goalpara Loach fish has been not been sighted in river Lubachhara in Sylhet in the recent past.
The Goalpara Loach fish was a unique species in the river system, and is about 3.6 cm in length. The fear of extinction of the species is a big loss to Bangladesh.
The IUCN report said the fish species was last sighted on March 25, 2009 in river Someswari near Susong Durgapur in Netrokona district of Bangladesh.
Given the threats facing the location where the Goalpara Loach was found, there is a possibility of total extinction of the species, the IUCN reported.
Conservationists in Bangladesh said in addition to the 'toxic' water of Lubachhara, massive stone mining at Kanaighat could be the added reason for disappearance of Goalpara Loach from the river system.
During winter months, the stone quarries use heavy machineries to extract more than 400,000 cubic feet of boulders every day in Kanaighat.
While the Meghalaya government is now under pressure from the KSU to find out the root cause of 'blue' Lukha, the issue of extinction of critically endangered fish species may catch New Delhi on the back-foot during bi-lateral meetings with Bangladesh.