Sponge Iron Plant Flouts Pollution Norms with Impunity
By Prasanjeet Sarkar | Published: 24th January 2014 08:57 AM |
Pollution by a sponge iron plant has made life miserable for villagers in Tainsor panchayat of Sundargarh district. In spite of district administration’s strictures, the company remains indifferent.
The Jay Balaji Jyoti Steel Ltd (JBJSL) at Tainsor of Lathikata block was made operational in 2004-05 and has since been in news for taking no pollution control measures. In 2008, the plant was closed by the district administration on pollution grounds and the JBJSL had to remove around 40,000 truckload of solid factory waste which it had illegally dumped outside the plant. It followed the anti-pollution norms for a year, but things have returned to square one again.
The panchayat has a population of 8,000 and majority of them are suffering from health ailments due to rampant pollution by the plant.
The roads passing through villages in the panchayat have also been damaged due to plying of heavy vehicles of the plant round-the-clock. Tainsor, Singher, Baglata and Samarjhula revenue villages are the worst hit.
Villagers said dust pollution reaches its peak daily between 9 am and 5 pm as smoke fills the air. Ultra fine particles of coal spread in the area and settle on crops and water bodies.
A villager Fakira Oram said fine coal dust carried by the plant’s waste water has spread to the agricultural land behind the plant affecting the soil fertility. Another villager Mange Oram claimed that his cow died after grazing in an agricultural land that was polluted by waste water from the plant.
Lathikata-B Zilla Parishad member Sunita Kisan said the company management has failed to keep its promise to repair the four-km Panchayat road which has been highly damaged due to plying of its heavy vehicles. She said temporary repair is only meant to facilitate movement of heavy vehicles.
“The plant defiantly violates pollution norms and ignores promises of periphery development with impunity. JBJSL management has also not paid eight teaching and non-teaching staff of its adopted school - Chandrikadevi Panchayat High School - since February last year,” she alleged.
Criticising the administration and police for adopting a soft approach towards the plant management, the ZP member said during 2010, several innocent villagers were arrested when they demanded action against it over pollution, labour law violations and lack of periphery development.
Panchayat Executive Officer Bholeswar Pradhan said at a Panchayat meeting, people’s representatives had lodged strong protest against the plant and instruction by the district administration to improve the road also went unheeded.
Regional Officer of Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) Niranjan Mallick said necessary action would be initiated against the company if violation of pollution norms is established.
Sundargarh Collector Bhupendra Singh Poonia said he would make a spot visit and ensure stern action if the allegations are found true.
■ The Jay Balaji Jyoti Steel Ltd (JBJSL) at Tainsor of Lathikata block was made operational in 2004-05 and has since been in news for taking no pollution control measures
■ Villagers said dust pollution reaches its peak daily between 9 am and 5 pm as smoke fills the air. Ultra fine particles of coal spread in the area and settle on crops