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Sectoral action-plans to check pollution prepared

Staff Reporter

Pollution control board prescription includes dedicated coal transport corridor


Ib-valley-Jharsuguda and Angul-Talcher score more than 70 in pollution index

With proposed industrialisation plan, suspended particulate matter likely to increase 18 times


BHUBANESWAR: After Ib Valley-Jharsuguda figured in the national map as one of the critically polluted spots, the Orissa State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) has come out with sectoral action-plans for abatement of pollution in the region.

The SPCB has prescribed ambitious plans from constructing dedicated coal transport corridor to creation of reservoir of storage of mine drainage water, from establishment of an extensive air quality monitoring network for Ib Valley-Jharsuguda area to construction of common disposal site facility for char and other iron and steel waste.

Ib-valley-Jharsuguda along with Angul-Talcher had scored more than 70 in Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI) developed by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Thus it was categorised as a critically polluted area.

There are about 27 major industries already existing in the region and proposals are already approved for 22 more industries. While work on one aluminum smelter Vedant Aluminum Limited is going on at Jharsuguda, there are six thermal power plants existing in Ib valley and Jharsuguda region. Out of six existing thermal power plant, five have proposed expansion and there are a total of 18 steel industries including sponge iron industries, out of which nine have their expansion plans.

To assess the nature and magnitude of environmental issues, Regional Environmental Management Plan was prepared by NEERI, Nagpur.

Interim report

The interim report says an aluminum smelter plant is operating close to the Bheden river which is discharging its water into Hirakud reservoir. Since the smelter plant handles substantial quantity of fluoride bearing materials it may find its way to Bheden river and contaminate the water, it apprehended.

During monsoon the run-offs from various stockpiles like coal, minerals and solid waste flow down the area and gets discharged to river Ib, Bheden and Hirakud reservoir through its feeder streams, the report said.

Moreover, groundwater level around the mining area was depleting due to extraction of ground water by the mining activities, besides shooting up of ambient temperature of this area close to 50° Celsius.

Except few abatement plans, many steps proposed by the SPCB should have been enforced during time of granting consents to operate, said Bijay Mishra, a city-based researcher on environment.

Mr. Mishra said had the control measures been strictly implemented, the situation would not have turned worse. “The record of weak pollution enforcements in the past triggers apprehensions that plan may remain in pen and paper,” he said.

This was not the first time alarm bell was raised over critical pollution indicators. The SPCB itself in the past had panic button with regard to possible environmental hazards to be faced by Sambalpur-Jharsuguda region.

With the proposed industrialisation plan SPM (suspended particulate matter) was likely to increase 18 times, SO2 13 times and fluoride nine times, the SPC report said, adding “high level of SPM and SO2 will pose significant health risk by raising the incidents of pulmonary disease.”

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