The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) to take appropriate action on crops damaged by emissions from the Hindalco Industries Limited plant at Hirakud in Sambalpur district.
Acting on a complaint of rights activist Akhand, the Commission has asked SPCB to inform on steps taken within eight weeks.
According to the petitioner, every year standing crops over thousands of acres in the peripheral villages of Hindalco Industries Limited are damaged due to fluoride emission from the plant. This has also been confirmed by the SPCB.
Analysis of foliage and water samples collected from farmland revealed that the crops were severely affected by the hydrogen fluoride gas. After testing samples of the crop and water from the fields, fluoride limit was found to be more than the permissible limit of 80 PPM (part per million).
The villagers alleged that standing crops across 200 acres were damaged in Gujatal, Nua Jamda, Gundrupada, Chamarpada, Mohammedpur and Dengimocha after heavy rains for two days on October 12 and 13.
Sources said the impact of the toxic emission from the HIL was so high that it led to yellowing of leaves due to chlorophyll reduction (chlorosis) and killing of leaf cells (necrosis) in paddy crop, besides leaves of other trees.
The petitioner alleged that neither the company nor the Government is taking measures to check the emission even though hundreds of farmers are facing a livelihood crisis on account of loss of crop.