ANGUL, Sept. 16. — Once again, the mini-ratna National Aluminium Company is ‘in the dock’ in the wake of accusations by its peripheral villages of toxic gas leakage from the smelter plant here on Monday last.

The agitating villagers of Tulasipal, Languliabeda met the Angul collector on Wednesday and complained against Nalco for releasing toxic gases which damage the crops and trees in the locality.

The villagers have been levelling the same allegations during almost every monsoon. Earlier, on 30 July last the local villagers were up in arms over burning of some teak trees situated near the plant.

In the autumn of 2003 the standing crops over hundreds of acres of land by the side of Nalco plants were also destroyed turning into yellow colours.
Hundreds of farmers of about four affected villages took to the streets at Angul and Bhubaneswar, demanding stoppage of toxic gas emission and suitable compensation to the farmers. The then state government without establishing the cause of paddy crop damage asked Nalco to pay compensation which Nalco agreed.

The same thing occurred in 2004 leading to various protests in and outside the district, forcing the state and Nalco authorities to constitute a committee to inquire into reasons as to why these damages take place to plants around the Nalco smelter plant.

A couple of committees set up to find out the cause were silent on the cause of crop or plant damage fuelling panic among the local people who feel the silent fluoride emission is slowly and steadily affecting the flora and fauna badly notwithstanding high-claims of Nalco.

After the matter was raised in the Assembly the government announced formation of an expert committee to look into the charges, but no headway has been made in the matter.

Meanwhile, Nalco executive director Mr UB Patnaik flatly denied any toxic leakage from the plant that has caused damage to plant lives in the periphery. He welcomed constitution of an expert commit0tee by the Pollution Control Board to clear the cloud.