PARADIP: The residents of a rehabilitation colony in Musadiha village have expressed concern over discharge of iron ore effluents by an Essar Steel unit in the region.
Sources said people from various districts of the State were engaged as contract workers at Oswal Chemical and Fertiliser Limited in 1998.
The firm had constructed a rehabilitation colony at Musadiha and around 25 contract workers along with their families have been staying there for the last 20 years. In 2005, Oswal Chemical and Fertiliser Limited sold its factory to IFFCO due to heavy losses incurred by it.
The plight of the 25 families residing in the colony has worsened due to discharge of effluents by Essar Steel plant. It is alleged that the plant has been violating pollution control norms by discharging industrial waste into Mahanadi river.
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The residents of the colony have demanded an impartial probe by an expert committee on the issue. Minu Nayak, a resident of the colony, said iron ore effluents and other pollutants discharged from the plant has made life miserable.
She said dust from the conveyor belt used in the plant has led to respiratory problems among the residents. “The walls and roof of our houses have been covered in red dust,” Minu said.
Some other residents of the colony alleged they have contracted water-borne and skin diseases after coming in contact with the iron ore effluents.
The pollutant has also affected vegetation in the area. Sarpanch of Nuagarh panchayat Babita Sethy said Essar Steel plant has been discharging effluent directly into nearby water bodies. The rehabilitation colony has been adversely affected due to the effluent.
She said the issue was raised by her before Essar Steel authorities but in vain.
Babita said the plant authorities are not keen to fix the deficiencies as it is alleged that the plant may be sold to another firm shortly. She said the district administration and Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) have been apprised of the situation.
However, Regional Officer, OSPCB Ramesh Chandra Ekka said no complaints on discharge of effluents by the steel plant has been received by the Board.
He said discharge of effluents and pollution of water bodies violates pollution control norms and stringent action will be initiated against the firm after a probe into the matter.