Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 20:
Concerned over pollution of rivers Brahmani, Kharashrota and Gandanal due to release of effluents from industries, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought for action taken report (ATR) from the Odisha government within four weeks.
Responding to a petition filed by human rights campaigner Subash Mohapatra the apex rights body has served notices to the chief secretary of the state and chairman of Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) seeking ATR within four weeks over alleged pollution of Brahmani, Kharashrota and Gandanal rivers due to release of effluents industries
Mohapatra pleaded that there has been a steep increase in presence of toxic cyanide and phenolic compounds in the waters of these rivers which was affecting the lives of people and animals dependent on these rivers. He further contended that even tests conducted by the OSPCB on water samples drawn from these rivers have confirmed presence of these toxic chemicals.
“SPCB badly failed to take appropriate measures as per law to reduce toxic compounds in water bodies. Industries including Nilachal Ispat, which are largely responsible for high pollution level, have been asked to pile waste materials in a pond instead of releasing them into water bodies. There is no monitoring mechanism available for checking water quality downstream of Kharashrota and other rivers”, he alleged.
Regional members of SPCB and a team of scientists of the Central Laboratory had collected water samples from seven places of Brahmani, Kharashrota and Gandanala on December 29 . The samples were tested December 31 and a report in this connection was published on January 16. According to scientists, 0.005 mg cyanide and phenolic compound in a litre of water is acceptable. However, the toxic content is around ten times higher than that, Mohapatra said.
Mohapatra said that scientists of Central Laboratory have confirmed release of effluents from industries like BRPL, Nilachal Ispat, Jindal Stainless Steel and Mesco into Kharashrota and Brahmani through Gandanala is the reason behind high toxic content in river waters.
The industrial wastes are released into Gandanala through a nullah in Bengapatia village in the district. Waste material of Tata Steel and other industries in the locality is also drained into Gandanala and Kharasrota aggravating their toxicity, he added.
Kalinga Nagar Development Authority (KNDA), which is responsible for preparation of a long-term action plan to check pollution in Gandanala and other rivers, has remained silent over the matter. The OSPCB, on August 10, 2014, had written a letter to KNDA on the matter. Again, the OSPCB in its letter November 12, 2015 had directed KNDA again to prepare a detailed report on the pollution of Gandanala. However, KNDA is allegedly sitting on the letter for 16 months now, the human rights activist lamented.
Mohapatra contended that the violation of environmental and human rights laws by industries have threatened life and livelihood of rural villagers.
They are continually violating and the state authorities, whose responsibility is to protect the life and livelihood of the people is found to be negligent and in some cases hand in glove with the business houses for extraneous consideration, he said.