PARADIP: Locals of Bhitragarh, Rangiagada and several other villages on Tuesday walked out of public hearing on environmental clearance opposing the proposed solid waste management plant of Paradip Municipality.
The public hearing, organised by Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) at Paradip, was presided over by ADM Kahnu Charan Dhir. Members of 29 organisations, elected representatives and heads of villages were present at the meeting.
When the ADM sought opinions from the participants about the waste management plan proposed at Bhitragarh, representatives of several villages opposed the project and walked out of the meeting. After their departure, the district administration, however, went ahead with the public hearing despite the thin attendance.
Head of Rangiagada village Balkrushna Jena said villagers had submitted a memorandum to the OSPCB, district administration and Paradip Municipality on April 10 to shift the proposed solid waste management plant from Bhitragada village to some other place on environmental grounds.
The project site is located close to Rangiagada, Bhitragada, Siju, Chandinipada, Nimidihi, Kothi and Paradeep Garh villages which are densely populated. Moreover, the area is beyond the limits of Paradip Municipality. Though other alternative sites are available within the municipality area and free from human habitations, the administration has planned to dump municipal waste at Bhitragada, ignoring the threat of health hazards facing the villagers due to the project, Jena alleged.
Moreover, these villages are surrounded by industries like Paradip Port, PPL, IFFCO, Paradip Carbon and IOCL’s Paradip Refinery. “The villagers are already at the receiving end of both air and water pollution brought about by these industries,” said Jena.
Despite their opposition, Paradip Municipality has erected the boundary wall and acquired 52 acres of land to set up the waste management plant at a cost of `42 crore under the integrated coastal zone management programme (ICZMP). “There is no point in organising public hearing meeting when the district administration has already acquired land and erected the boundary wall of the project,” said the villagers.
Among others, OSPCB Regional Officer Mukesh Mahaling and officials of Paradip Municipality were present.