Farmers living in the vicinity of Hirakud complex of Hindalco Industries Limited (HIL) on Wednesday gheraoed the HIL, State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) and district administration officials at a meeting over a breach in the ash pond of the company.
The pond of the HIL at Budhakanta had breached on Monday damaging standing crops in large tracts of fertile land. It also affected Samablpur distributary as liquid ash flowed into irrigation water canal.
Farmers accused HIL and SPCB of being hand in glove.
Although the meeting remained inconclusive, Additional District Magistrate M C Bariha announced a committee to probe the breach of the ash pond and called for a report in two days. He also directed the Sambalpur Tehsildar to assess the loss sustained by farmers before a decision on the issue is taken. The farmers said that the ash pond had turned into ‘ash mound’ and the breach was only expected due to lack of maintenance. They claimed that due to the breach, crops in over 30 acres of land were damaged and 6 km of Sambalpur distributary canal was filled with ash.
The issue of repeated crop damage due to fluoride emission from HIL was also taken up in the meeting.