BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) has slapped a show cause notice on Vedanta Limited for the ash pond breach in Jharsuguda where it has an aluminium smelter and thermal power plant.
It has sought to know why consent for the two units should not be withdrawn and closure be directed.
The pollution board estimated that the ash pond breach, that occurred on August 28, led to flowing of a whopping 42, 24, 000 metric tonne of ash slurry into Bheden river and nearby paddy fields.
“The fact that 42, 24, 000 metric tonne of ash has flown into the river and nearby areas speaks volumes of the enormity and magnitude of the damage to the surrounding areas and local environment including Bheden river,” the show-cause notice said.
The ash pond at Katikela is the prime ash storage facility of Vedanta and no lagoon is now available for storage of ash since lagoon-1 is under construction while lagoon-2 is breached. Similarly, lagoon-3 is yet to be made ready and full of water. The heavy accumulation of water, the OSPCB said, endangers its safety against breach.
An inspection team of the board which visited Katikela area also reported that there is no space for an interim ash pond at Kurebaga though the plant has been discharging ash slurry into the pond immediately after the August 28 accident though it was warned against using it without prior permission.
The OSPCB team also found that after the breach of ash pond, the concentration of total suspended solids (TSS) content in the downstream of the site in Bheden river stands at a massive 2,812 mg/litre against 66 mg/litre observed in the river’s upstream.
The pollution board said the mishap has pointed out that there is complete failure in adherence to technicalities and specifications indicated by the experts of IIT and NIT in the ash pond system.
Expressing grave concern over the safety and environment since the facility virtually has no space left for disposal of fly ash generated after the mishap, the Board has sought to know why the consent to operate (CTO) shall not be revoked and closure be directed for the 10.5 lakh tonne aluminium smelter and 1,215 mega watt power plant.