Damage of crop in the peripheral villages of Hindalco Industries Limited (HIL) at Hirakud due to fluoride emission from the plant has been confirmed by Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB).

Regional Officer of OSPCB Hemendra Nath Nayak told this paper that analysis of foliage and water samples collected from farmland on October 17 revealed that there was impact of hydrogen fluoride gas on the crop. “After testing samples of the crop and water from the fields, fluoride limit was found to be more than the permissible limit of 80 PPM (part per million),” he said.

Leaves of the standing crop had turned yellow due to toxic emission from the HIL plant. A report in this regard has been submitted by the Pollution Board to Sambalpur Collector Balwant Singh for perusal.

As directed by the Collector, a fact finding team comprising Nayak, District Agriculture Officer Dusashan Praharaj and programme coordinator of Krushi Vigyan Kendra at Chipilma Pramod Prusty visited the affected villages on October 17.

This is for the fifth time that complaint of crop damage due to toxic emission by HIL has been made by farmers. This time, they alleged that standing crop in 200 acres was damaged in Gujatal, Nua Jamda, Gundrupada, Chamarpada, Mohammedpur and Dengimocha villages after Phailin induced rain for two days on October 12 and 13. Sources said the impact of the toxic emission from the HIL was so high that it led to yellowing of leaves due to chlorophyll reduction (chlorosis) and killing of leaf cells (necrosis) in paddy crop besides leaves of other trees.

Prior to this, crop damage was reported on July 21 last year, September 11 in 2011 besides in 2003 and 2008.

It has been noticed that whenever there is overcast condition for a couple of days, crop has been damaged. Meanwhile, Sambalpur unit of BJD has demanded immediate disbursement of compensation to the affected farmers and permanent solution to the recurring problem. They have also threatened to launch stir if visible step is not taken within a week on the issue.