Polluted Talcher-Angul Cluster on Recovery Path, Not Out of Red Zone Yet
BHUBANESWAR: The Angul-Talcher cluster, ranked as one of the critically polluted industrial regions of the country, has showed signs of improvement. Over the last five years, the area has posted a dip in the comprehensive industrial pollution index (CEPI) score.
From 82.09 in 2009, the CEPI score has dropped to 72.86 which indicates an improvement not only in the environment management practices but also in pollution control measures, claims a report by Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB).
However, the cluster continues to be in the red zone. The CEPI, devised by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), points out that score of 70 and above by an industrial cluster is considered critically polluted, whereas those in the 60-70 bracket are considered severely polluted areas and must be kept under surveillance and pollution control measures should be efficiently implemented.
In 2009, when the CPCB carried out a study of 88 industrial regions of the country, the Angul-Talcher cluster figured at number seven with a CEPI score of 82.09. It is home to a large number of thermal-based power plants and coal mines.
After being asked to chart out an action plan - both short-term and long-term to achieve sector specific pollution control goals - the rating in 2011 showed that the cluster had actually fared worse by notching up a higher score of 89.74 on the index. The latest rating shows that the indices for region have dropped to 72.86.
The OSPCB submitted the report to the Odisha Human Rights Commission in response to a petition filed by former legislator Bibhudendra Pratap Das. The petition indicated that due to use of huge amount of coal by PSUs and private thermal power plants, environment pollution has triggered a spate of problems including acute drinking water shortage.
The State board, in its report, stated that out of 15 mines, six are still involved in underground mining, whereas the rest go for opencast mining. After the region came under scrutiny, pollution control measures were tightened and coal mines have been adopting improved technology, it added.
Conventional drilling and blasting for mining of coal, the Board said, has been replaced by surface mining technology. In Talcher area, about 85 per cent of the coal is now excavated by surface mining technology. Similarly, transportation through rail instead of road has increased. During 2014-15, at least 86 per cent of coal was transported through rail corridors. Similarly, a host of other air and water pollution measures too has been adopted. Fire fighting measures in the coal stockyards have been augmented, the report added.
The State Pollution Control Board informed that it has taken up a heat island study in the cluster as the day temperature touches 44 degree to 46 degree Celsius during summer months. The study will assess causes, significant hotspots, environmental and anthropogenic factors.