Close on the heels of the ash pond breach in Hindalco Industries Limited, fly ash from Shyam Metalics and Energy Limited at Pandloi village has reportedly damaged large tract of land in Nishanbhanga village under Rengali police limits of the district.
The rain-washed ash slurry has flowed into agricultural land damaging standing crop besides the Hirakud Dam Reservoir (HDR).
Established in 2006, the plant has been in the thick of controversy right from the beginning.
Located on the periphery of HDR, it has been accused of encroaching upon the dam and dumping effluents into the reservoir. It is said that the ash had been dumped without any retaining wall or embankment and was washed away by incessant rain to nearby land and HDR.
Though farmers of the village had drawn the attention of the plant management, their pleas were allegedly ignored. At least five farmers, including Kirtan Biswal, Ratan Nikhandia, Bhikari Bhoi, Janmajaya Naik and Parkhita Pradhan are among the worst-affected.
It is learnt that the plant has constructed an ash pond in Babuchakli village but with transportation yet to be finalised, the management continues to dump fly ash on its premises.
While resentment is brewing among farmers who have threatened a stir, General Manager (Personnel) of Shyam Metalics and Energy Limited US Lal said loss assessment was underway and the affected farmers would be compensated. He also said steps were being taken to ensure that such a situation does not recur.
Meanwhile, a team from Odisha State Pollution Control Board, comprising Scientists Hemdra Naik and S P Nanda, visited the plant on Wednesday. They said the plant management had earlier been directed to undertake fly ash management which was ignored resulting in the situation. They revealed that the plant had forfeited bank guarantee of ` 35 lakh before for violation of solid waste management.