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Odisha-based NGO opposes move to fill water body with fly ash


Odisha Sun Times Bureau

Sambalpur, May 26:

The Water Initiative Odisha has taken strong exception to the district administration’s move to fill the upper pond of Jagannath Mandir Colony here, with fly ash for trying to ‘kill the pond and polluting the nearby areas in the process.

Calling the project funded by the Sambalpur Development Authority (SDA) as dangerous the WIO convener and well known water conservationist Ranjan Panda, in a press release issued today,  has  urged the SDA to immediately stop this work and revive the pond.

Ranjan Panda, Convenor, WIO
Ranjan Panda, Convenor, WIO

Panda in his release said the pond is one of the twin ponds that are still active ecosystems and have been supporting local trees, bird species and have been playing a role in recharging the local ground water. Besides, hundreds of people use the lower pond water for bating and other purposes daily.

“Any effort to kill and pollute the upper pond would kill and pollute the lower pond as well”, warned Panda.

He said what more shocking is that the filling of the upper pond is being done with fly ash from nearby coal fired power plants. Fly ash contains heavy carcinogenic contents and also high radioactive elements. Disposal of fly ash needs to be done under proper and scientific methods which are clearly prescribed in the environmental clearances given to the plants by the Pollution Control Boards.

“By openly transporting fly ash and dumping the same in a residential area, this work not only violates air pollution norms but also has high potential to contaminate ground water. We ask SDA to immediately stop using fly ash for such works”, Panda said in the release.

A children’s park has been developed on one of the bunds of the pond that is being filled up and local residents had hoped that after the park was developed the pond would get proper protection.

“There seems an effort to kill this pond in the name of extension of the children’s park. Local people and ex-ward member informed us that this is being done with SDA money.If the SDA has money, it should use it to revive the pond to its previous glory and strengthen the children’s park on the bund with more vegetative cover and other greenery development activities. It should, in no way, kill the pond,” said Dillip Kumar Padhi, a leading member of WIO said.

Prof. Arttabandhu Mishra, another leading member of WIO said, ponds are an integral part of our River Basin systems. If we kill ponds of Sambalpur, the water flow of Mahanadi would also be affected. In fact the urban planners need to revive all ponds and protect them with sufficient vegetative covers.

“In no case, urban water bodies should be used as garbage dumping pits and any other purposes. Ponds can fight the heat and water scarcity for us”, Prof Mishra said .