Tension gripped Budakanta village after farmers prevented a team from Odisha State Pollution Control Board, Bhubaneswar, from entering the village. The team was here to assess the breach in ash pond of Hindalco Industries Limited (HIL).
The team, comprising Environmental Engineer Simanchal Dash, Senior Scientist Mukesh Mahaling and Scientist Satyanarayan Nanda had to face the wrath of the farmers who demanded action against HIL following the second breach in a month, the last being on August 3.
Alleging negligence on the part of HIL, the farmers showed the team ash-filled agricultural land with standing crop and also a canal of Sambalpur Distributary in which ash is flowing along with water covering more tracts of land downstream.
The farmers demanded arrest of the top honchos of HIL at Hirakud and said had the management acted after the first breach, the second breach could have been averted.
Accusing HIL of polluting water in the canal which is also used for drinking downstream, the farmers said HIL was overlooking the interest of the farmers and is bent upon driving them out of the place and grab their land.
Refusing any truck with HIL, Dash attributed the breach to faulty ash management by HIL. He said there should be guard wall, garland drain and settling pond for the ash mound. The norms have been violated by HIL and appropriate action would be initiated once they submit their report to the member secretary on their return. He also assured the farmers that he would recommend forfeiting of bank guarantee of HIL over the issue.
Efforts to contact HIL officials proved futile. Sub-Collector Rainu Singh said the revenue inspector has been asked to assess loss.