In a shocking incident, thousands of dead fish were found floating on the surface of Saravanapoigai tank, the temple tank of the Sri Subramaniaswamy Temple, located in Tirupparankundram in Madurai on Sunday.
Samples of the water have been sent for testing and the fish have been removed. The district administration has also ordered an investigation.
Collector K Veera Raghava Rao said "We will take strict action once the reports come."
Reportedly, foul smell started emanating from the tank, one of five theerthams of the temple, which led to the discovery of the dead fishes which had already started floating since Saturday. The temple authorities at last had to deploy workers to remove them.
Locals suspect that it could be a handiwork of some miscreants, who could have poisoned the water, owing to enmity over taking fishing lease.
Residents have opposed the temple's move to hand over fishing rights through an auction last year, reportedly at Rs. 47,000 a year.
Believed by devotees to be one of six homes of Lord Muruga, the tank is spread over an area of about 15 acres and is used by devotees for a ritual bath before the temple visit.
The water body impacts ground water table. Well known environmentalist Piyush Manush says "Normally if poisoned it is like end of the lake, restoration doesn't happen anyway as there's no flow of water. The only way is you empty the lake and wait for rains. There's no deterrent, nowhere in Tamil Nadu we've heard action being taken against or those responsible being arrested."
The annual fishing rights in the tank of the temple, one of six abodes of Lord Muruga, had been given for Rs. 47,000.
Saravana Poigai is believed to be an auspicious water body, which has mythological connections to the temple and is situated about half a kilometre away from the temple premises. The tank is spread over an area of about 15 acres and is used by devotees for a ritual bath before the temple visit.
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BY M. DIVYA SRI