SONBHADRA (UTTAR PRADESH): The final and seventh phase of Uttar Pradesh elections saw furious campaigning with all political bigwigs making promises to solve a plethora of problems, but the issue of acute air and water pollution in Sonbhadra did not find mention in any of the manifestoes.
Sonbhadra is one of the districts voting on Wednesday. Residents here have been seeking a solution to the pollution caused by tonnes of ash generated from thermal power plants in the district, but all pleas till now have fallen on deaf ears.
Pradushan Mukti Vahini (PMV), a social organisation working among the locals to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of pollution on health, claimed that they had met members of various political parties to raise this issue, but no one had agreed. PMV’s convener Rameshwar Prasad said, "In January-February, 38 village pradhans sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister drawing his attention towards the pollution of air and water, but we are still awaiting his response".
Jagat Narayan Vishwakarma, who had moved the National Green Tribunal in 2014 over the issue, said that because of continuous depletion of quality of air and water, the general health of the local population has taken a beating. "For generation of thermal power in the region, 3.26 lakh tonne of coal is ignited every day. Nearly 40 per cent is reduced to ashes and it floats in the air, thereby causing pollution. Most of the power projects here are operating for the last 20 years," Vishwakarma said.
There are four thermal power plants in the area which use coal for power generation. He also said that the existing ash dumps are already full, and no fresh dumping space has been created. "Because of this, the ash gets into Rihand reservoir, while the ash generated from Obra power project is polluting the Renuka river," he added.
In a recent study, high level of mercury was found in the environment as well as in the bodies of the local residents. Such high concentration of the metal was attributed to thermal plants and coal mines. Despite this, no measures have been taken to set mercury standards for industrial units.
In Sonbhadra district, coal mining to the tune of 17 million tonnes takes place per year.
(With PTI inputs)