Residents living near India’s financial capital Mumbai were shocked to see a number of stray dogs had turned a bright shade of blue.
It emerged the animals had been wading through water as they searched for food in the Kasadi river where untreated industrial waste from nearby factories had been dumped.
There are claims at least one of the dogs had gone blind and other animals, including birds, had also been affected by the pollution in Navi Mumbai.
Arati Chauhan, who runs the Navi Mumbai animal protection shelter, was the first to highlight the issue.
She told Sky News: “It’s just not dogs. All other animals are being affected by the environment pollution. I witnessed five such dogs. In fact, one of the dogs has gone blind.”
Ms Chauhan said she when she went to survey the area her eyes started burning and she fell sick. She said: “I had to see a doctor and am still recovering.”
She added: ‘Workers in the factories and security men guarding various factories tell me they have health issues, breathing is a problem but say ‘We are helpless, we have to work here its our bread and butter’.”
There are about 1,000 pharmaceutical, dye manufacturing and food factories in the Taloja district.
A quality check by the Navi Mumbai municipal corporation found the waste treatment of effluents was inadequate.
The level of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) was 80 milligram a litre.
According to official guidelines, fish die when the BOD level is above 6mg/l, and a level above 3mg/l makes the water unfit for human consumption.
For years, activists have complained to authorities of indiscriminate dumping of untreated effluents into the river, but to no avail.
Ms Chauhan and her group have now filed a complaint with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB).
Anil Mohekar, regional officer of the board, told reporters they were aware of the complaint, adding: “Discharge of dye into any water body is illegal. We will take action against the polluters as they are destroying the environment.”
One of the industrial units producing chemical dyes has been sealed by authorities.
Ms Chauhan claimed only part of the factory was sealed and not the manufacturing unit.
She said: “It’s all hogwash, how can only one factory pollute the entire area. Hundreds of factories are saving money by dumping toxins in the river instead of sending it to the mandatory common effluent treatment plant.”
The Taloja industrial zone, located outside Mumbai, employs almost 76,000 people and generates billions of pounds a year for the economy.