Villagers in Rengali block are leading a miserable life owing to pollution from 22 stone crusher units located within a radius of four km along Rengali-Babuchakli Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) road.
Since industrialisation took off in the district and the neighbouring Jharsuguda, there has been a rise in the demand of stone chips by the industrial units.
Not many of these stone crushers have the mandatory permission to operate. They allegedly use explosives for blasting and this has resulted in large-scale pollution in the area.
People live in a fear of fatal accidents during the explosions. Besides, the dust that fills the air makes breathing difficult and also pollutes water bodies.
To make things worse, of the 10-km road from Rengali-Babuchakli, six km has been completely damaged due to plying of heavy vehicles carrying the stone chips. The worst affected villages include Jharmunda, Badkhalia, Babuchakli and Menkapada under Nishanbhanga gram panchayat of the block.
Villagers said they have been repeatedly drawing the attention of the district administration to the problem of pollution and blasting, but in vain. After failing to move the administration, they called on Rengali Tehsildar Lambodar Dharua on Saturday and drew his attention to their problem. Earlier, they had also gone to the grievance cell of the Collector and registered their protest against the stone crusher units and pollution.
After their meeting with the Tehsildar, the district administration moved the Regional Officer of OSPCB Hemendranath Nayak who visited the spot on Monday.
Nayak said the stone crusher units have been violating the pollution control norms.
While many did not have boundary walls, others never sprinkled water to arrest dust pollution, he added. He further said there were instances of the mandatory green belt not being developed and four stone crushers were operating illegally. The Pollution Board has decided to issue show cause notices to the illegal stone crushers, he added.