Most industries in Jharsuguda have failed in achieving the mandatory green cover of 33.33 per cent of their plant premises.
This came to light during the ongoing raids by members of the district environment committee headed by Honorary Wildlife Warden Dhruba Raj Naik.
The five-member committee comprising officials of the Forest Department and the Odisha State Pollution Control Board has been reviewing plantation works taken up by industries in the region for the last 10 days.
The committee was formed following suggestion by the Odisha State Pollution Control Board under the directive of Principal Secretary of Forest & Environment Department RK Sharma. So far, the committee has reviewed plantation works in 20 industrial units and will continue the process for next few days.
Earlier, the Forest Department had called for strict compliance with the green cover norm, emphasising that controlling environmental degradation is non-negotiable.
Jharsuguda's industrial hub has about 30 small and big industrial units like Vedanta Aluminium, Starlite Energy, MCL, OPGC, TRL-Krosaki, Earth Mineral, Bhatia Coal Washeries, Global Coal & Mining, Ind-Bharath Energy, Action Ispat, MSP Metaliks, Concast Max, SMC Power, TPSL, Ultratech Cement, Indian Oil Corporation and others. These industries are considered lifeline of the region as they provide employment opportunities to locals and people from adjoining areas.
During their review of the units, members of the committee found that some of major industries operating in the region have alarmingly low level of green cover on their industrial premises. Sources said though industries claimed to have complied with Forest Department’s directive to carry out plantation drive in 33.33 per cent of their total land holding, they have actually planted trees in just about 10 to 20 per cent of the area.
While the green cover of Vedanta Aluminium and Starlite Energy is at 20 per cent each, that of Bhatia Coal Washeries stands at 10 per cent, Global Coal & Mining (20 per cent) and Ind-Bharath Energy plant (10 per cent), 15 per cent by Concast Max, 12 per cent by SMC Power and 15 per cent by TPSL. OPGC and TRL-Krosaki are, however, exceptions to these violations as both have carried out 40 per cent and 35 per cent plantation on their plant premises respectively.
Earlier, environmentalists had alleged that emission of harmful gases like sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and fluoride by these industries have been resulting in large scale pollution in the area.
District Collector Niranjan Sahu said he would look into the findings of the committee and ensure that the industries adhere to the mandatory 33.33 per cent plantation norm.