BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) has slapped Rs 13.77 crore penalty on Hindalco for unauthorised sale and inept handling of anode butts which are generated as waste from the company’s Hirakud plant. Invoking the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle, the Board penalised the Aditya Birla Group-owned company for violation of the Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2008, under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
This is for the first time that the Board has imposed a penalty on a company in Odisha thereby sending a stern message that corporates cannot mess around with pollution norms. Besides, imposition of such a huge penalty is rare.
Used anode butts are contaminated with fluoride and are categorised as hazardous materials and their management, handling and transportation are
covered under Hazardous Waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2008.
Hindalco authorities were issued a showcause notice in September last year after which they had contended that the waste was not hazardous in nature which was proved otherwise by the Board.
The company was also asked to follow a protocol and given an opportunity to present its side through personal hearings.
“After going through all the records and the depositions made by Hindalco, the Board is convinced that there had been violation of rules,” SPCB member-Secretary Sidhanta Das said.
It was during September last year that the Board came to know that 11,500 tons of anode butts had been sold in un-authorised manner by the Hindalco Ltd.
Two firms from Dhanbad and Visakhapatnam had procured about 6,000 MT of hazardous waste from Hindalco by presenting forged letters of the Board before the company following which the matter was investigated by the SPCB.
As per norms, an industrial unit can dispose of the hazardous waste only to vendors authorised by the board.
In Hindalco’s case, these two firms were not authorised but produced forged letters for procurement.
Besides, an estimated 5,800 metric tonne of Spent Pot Liners and 11,468 metric tonne of anode butts were believed to have been sold to unauthorised units in and outside Odisha. Each metric tonne of anode butt is sold at an approximate ` 13,000 while SPL price is ` 6,000.
The SPL and anode butts contain fluoride in such high concentration that it can prove extremely harmful to the human health and environment.