ANGUL/JHARSUGUDA:The public hearing for the proposed 10 million tonne annual capacity coal washery plant which was scheduled on Tuesday was cancelled due to stiff opposition from the local villagers. They claimed that it would add to the environment pollution in and around Talcher.
As soon as the meeting chaired by Additional District Magistrate (ADM) Srinibash Behera started hundreds of affected people stormed the venue at Jagannath Kalakendra. They demanded that the meeting be cancelled immediately and charged the authorities of Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) with doing little to check pollution.
The Regional Officer (RO) of OSPCB S Dash confirmed cancellation of the meeting but said he was not aware when the next meet will take place.
As part its plan to set up 10 washeries across MCL areas, Mahanadi Coalfield Limited (MCL) had decided to set up one at Bhubaneswari Coalmine complex and another at Ib Valley Coalfield of Jharsuguda. As part its policy, it will be the owner but the washery will be outsourced.
However, the public hearing for the proposed washery project at Ib Valley Coalfield was held even as the locals boycotted it and vowed to oppose its construction in the future. Here too, the villagers alleged it would aggravate the pollution problems.
The locals stormed the meeting venue at Indra Dhanush Club, Bandhbahal and said they will not allow it to be set up. The villagers led by Kusaloi Sarpanch Andhmani Pradhan also vehemently protested the project and finally boycotted the meet. Presided over by ADM Sitaram Patel, the hearing was attended by Sub Collector BK Dhal, Lakhanpur Tehasildar Dolamani Patel, Regional Officer of OSPCB Niranjan Mallick and other officials of the district administration besides senior MCL officials.
However, Lakhanpur Area General Manager MG Brahmapurakar said all steps would be taken to maintain pollution levels as per the limits set by OSPCB and pollution will not as much as is being apprehended by the locals.
The ADM said due to use of advanced technology and sufficient water in the washery, the pollution will be very minimum.
Anticipating law and order situation, SDPO Churamani Nayak, Banharpalli IIC Anand Bardhan Guru and Rengali IIC Purusottam Bhol were present at the spot with one platoon of force.
Union Coal Secretary Anil Swarup had laid the foundation stone of the coal washery at Lakhanpur area during his recent three-day visit.