[India News]: Anngal (Orissa), Mar.18 : Residents of several villages in Orissa’s Anngal district have launched a series of protests in the area over the hardships that they are facing due to the pollution coming out from a factory run by the public sector National Aluminum Company (NALCO).

Residents of at least five villages adjoining the NALCO factory staged a protest demonstrations on the railway tracks against the unabated pollution in the area from the factory. The protesters claimed that fluoride contents from the plant are polluting the environment and contaminating the villagers’ only source of drinking water.

“We have been living here for the past 25 years and since the time NALCO came up, we have been facing problems. A team of doctors also visited our place. All ponds, lakes and wells have got polluted,” said Sutar Dehri

The discharge of the plant’s ash slurry depositing in the fields, apart from spoiling the land, has reduced the productivity of the paddy fields.

“Here we cannot grow vegetables or any crop. The cattle is also suffering due to pollution. Our crops have been affected due to pollution caused by NALCO, ” said Purosottam Singh

Even though no NALCO official agreed to comment on the issue, Arabind Padhi, the collector of the district, said measures were being taken to prevent further deterioration of the situation.

“We are definitely taking stock of the situation and we have also formed a committee to enquire into the matter and we’ll advise the NALCO management to take steps to prevent pollution in the adjoining areas. And also advising them to take care of the affected population.”

According to the villagers about 4,500 acres of agricultural land in 23 villages had also been damaged.

NALCO is the second-largest aluminium maker in the country with production capacity of 230,000 tonnes. The government owns 87.15 percent stake in NALCO. Villagers said this to be the reason behind the apathetic attitude of the government towards their problems. (ANI)