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In the fray of development, Angul is becoming unfit for human habitation
"The comprehensive environmental pollution index (CEPI) published by central pollution control board, India has marked 23 industrial clusters of India as going unfit for habitation among which is Angul-Talcher belt of Orissa. Even though the local medical officer confirms both air borne and water borne diseases in the district caused due to pollution, and, even though, the report of Central Pollution Control Board indicates that the whole district is becoming unsuitable for human habitation, the officer of regional pollution control board doesn’t believe what has been reported in the pollution index."
Basudev Mahapatra : January 5, 2010
Angul – the coal rich district in the central Orissa has now become the worst place to live in or almost unfit for human habitation, says the comprehensive environmental pollution index (CEPI) published by central pollution control board, India.
The study was made in 88 industrial clusters of India with an objective to identify polluted industrial clusters or areas in order to take concerted action and to centrally monitor them at the national level to improve the current status of their environmental components such as air and water quality data, ecological damage, and visual environmental conditions.
As its findings, the study has found 22 clusters including Orissa’s Angul – Talcher as the most polluted and ministry of environment, Government of India has asked states to stop further expansion of these clusters. The reasons are again Pollution of air and water due to rapid industrialisation in the district without strict environmental provisions.
The district that is famous for huge coal reserve on the Brahmani river basin has been the centre of opencast mining by Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd. Because of coal dust emission and frequent fire in the mining area, the peripheral localities are getting polluted and experiencing more atmospheric temperature. Adding to the misery of people in the district are number of private Steel, Sponge Iron and Thermal Power plants and PSUs like NALCO and NTPC. The smoke and wastes released by the industries are polluting the air and water both.
Non-stop heavy vehicle movement for transportation of coal and other raw materials to various industries is another factor behind pollution as they make more dust fly in the air. Even the plants and everything gets covered by the dust. The plants do not have a proper growth because of thick dust cover on the leaves.
We plant trees to grow fruits for our consumption and for selling. But the thick dust on the leaves and polluted air do not allow the trees to grow. Even the clothes hanged for drying get a layer of dust in an hour only. Our children are suffering from various diseases’, said Avimanyu Pradhan of Banharpali area.
The industrial waste and dust together pollute the water to a hazardous level. People of the peripheral villages drink this water and bath in it. This polluted water carrying toxic industrial waste joins river Brahmani – the lifeline of the district. Thus the river gets polluted to cause several diseases to the people living around. ‘Due to pollution of air, people of the locality mainly face bronchitis, bronchial asthma, meningitis, sinusitis, nasal problems, TB, various eye problems and other diseases occurring due to air pollution. People are getting gastric and other stomach ailments, scabies and other skin diseases by using and consuming polluted water’, says Dr. Rudra Narayan Nayak, Medical Officer of Samal Project Hospital at Rengali.
Even though the local medical officer confirms both air borne and water borne diseases in the district caused due to pollution, and, even though, the report of Central Pollution Control Board indicates that the whole district is becoming unsuitable for human habitation, the officer of regional pollution control board doesn’t believe what has been reported in the pollution index. Expressing his satisfaction over the pollution control measures by the department, Regional Officer A. Behera tells that they have been monitoring the water of Brahmani river and have found it polluted but to ‘C’ Grade – which is again hazardous.
However, Pollution Control board is happy with the industries while the scale of pollution is seen in broad day light and peoples’ sufferings are in a rise. It’s not only the water including river Brahmani, but the whole atmosphere is fed with huge amount of toxic dust, toxic smoke and toxic wastes every moment. And, the callousness of regional office of Orissa Pollution Control Board in dealing with the pollution problem across the district says about the nexus between the environmental law violating industries and the officials placed to check industrial activities that pollutes the water and air.
It seems that the industries operate against people and environment to make as much profit as they can and the Pollution Control Board officials are busy overloading their purse by closing their eyes to all the wrongs done by the industrial houses. Nobody bothers for the people who suffer the worst and live a miserable life with diseases and livelihood threats.