Bhubaneswar, Dec 26:
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) to initiate appropriate action against Hindalco Industries Limited for fluoride emission from its plant at Hirakud causing damage to crops.
The Commission ordered OSPCB to initiate action against the errant company within eight weeks while responding to a complaint filed by rights activist Akhand.
The petitioner, in his complaint, had cited that every year standing crops on thousands of acres in villages on the periphery of Hindalco Industries Limited at Hirakud in Sambalpur district were damaged due to fluoride emission from the plant.
An analysis of the foliage and water samples collected from farmland on the plant’s periphery by the OSPCB recently revealed that there was impact of hydrogen fluoride gas on the crops. On testing, samples of the crop and water from the fields were found to be containing fluoride in excess of the permissible limit of 80 PPM (part per million), said Akhand in his petition. The leaves of the standing crop had turned yellow due to toxic emission from the Hindalco plant, he added.
It may be noted that farmers had recently complained to the district administration about crop damage due to toxic emissions by Hindalco. They alleged that standing crop in 200 acres was damaged in Gujatal, Nua Jamda, Gundrupada, Chamarpada, Mohammedpur and Dengimocha villages.
In his petition, Akhand said the impact of the toxic emission from Hindalco’s unit was so high that it led to yellowing of leaves due to chlorophyll reduction and killing of leaf cells in paddy crop, besides leaves of other trees.
He alleged that neither the company nor the government was taking measures to check the emission as a result of which hundreds of farmers are losing their crops every year endangering their livelihood.
Affected farmers have not been provided with any compensation towards their crop loss, the activist alleged in his petition.
Considering the grievance, the commission has directed chairman of OSPCB to take appropriate action within eight weeks and inform the complainant about the action taken in the matter.