Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Sambalpur, Mar 11:
The Hirakud-based aluminium company Hindalco has provided a compensation of Rs 76.29 lakh to the local farmers who had sustained huge crop loss due to breach in the ash pond and leakage of toxic fluoride gas from the plant.
Of the total compensation amount, the company on Monday deposited Rs 32.99 lakh in the account of 49 farmers.
It may be mentioned that about 228 acres of cropland of 192 farmers of Gujatala, Nuajamada, Gundurupada, Chamarapada, Mohammadpur and Dengimicha were severely affected due to leakage of fluoride gas from the plant following torrential rain on October 12 last year under the influence of Cyclone Phailin.
Demanding permanent solution to the frequent pollution by the plant, the farmers, led by the president of Jayadurga Anchalika Parishad Sitakanta Panda and secretary Santosh Telenga had submitted a memorandum to the district collector.
Acting on the directive of the collector on October 16, a team of officials of the regional officer of the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB), Sambalpur branch Hemendra Nayak, district agriculture officer Dushasan Praharaj and Pramod Prusty of Chipilima Agriculture Science Institute had visited the affected areas.
The team, in its report to the collector, had stated that the crop loss was due to leakage of fluoride gas from the plant.
Acting on the report, collector Balwant Singh drew the attention of the state government.
Later, a team of OSPCB officials from Bhubaneswar visited the affected areas and directed the Hindalco authorities to take immediate steps to stop pollution.
However, following the efforts of the district collector, the company later agreed to pay compensation to the tune of Rs 24,506 per acre to 192 farmers and has handed over Rs 56,88,470 to the district administration.
Apart from this, the company has also released Rs 19,40,964 as compensation to 256 farmers whose crops were affected due to inundation of ash slurry in their land.
All the affected farmers would receive compensation in a couple of days, official sources said.