Sambalpur: The Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) has confirmed crop damage in October due to emission of fluoride gas by smelter of Hindalco Industries Limited at Hirakud in the district.
In the report, submitted to the government on Friday, the board has maintained that fluoride gas emitted from the smelter, aided by heavy rain and gusty wind, damaged standing crop on October 12 and 13.
The report was prepared by the board after its scientific team comprising senior scientific assistant (SSA), Bhubaneswar office, Bhabagrahi Jena, SSA, regional office, Sanjay Bhoi, regional officer H N Nayak, environmental engineer D K Dash and deputy environment scientist S K Mohanty conducted a field survey on the request of the district administration on November 11 and 12.
The report, signed by Dash and Mohanty, suggested the company to install stack monitoring and fugitive monitoring system to keep a watch on emission of fluoride gas. The report also suggested preparing a strategic plan to check fluoride emission during rainy season as possibility of crop damage becomes higher during rain and stormy weather. The company should reduce operational load by stopping production in such conditions to ensure prevention of fluoride gas emission, the report said.
“The report has already been submitted to the government through the RDC and it is now up to government to take action on the report,” said Nayak on Sunday.
Farmers of villages located near the plant had alleged crop damage due to pollution by the industry. They had said standing paddy crop on more than 200 acre was completed damaged due to emission of fluoride gas. They had also staged an agitation in front of the collectorate, demanding compensation.
The district administration had finally sought a report from the OSPCB to know the exact cause of the crop damage. The regional officer and deputy director, agriculture, Ashok Mohanty had conducted a field survey immediately after the allegations surfaced and submitted an interim report to the collector in October. The report had also said crops were damaged due to emission of fluoride gas. But to confirm it, the administration had requested the board to examine it through a team of experts and scientists.