SPCB order sparks fear of NINL closure

Jajpur: The fear of closure of state-owned Nilachal Ispat Nigam Ltd (NINL) at Kalinganagar here loomed large after the state pollution control board (SPCB) refused to renew the consent to operate the plant over its failure to comply with air and water pollution control norms.

The matter came to the fore after the member secretary of the SPCB issued a letter to NINL authorities apprising them of the watchdog’s move Wednesday.
The pollution watch body refused to renew ‘the consent to operate’ clause of the coke oven plant of the steel firm which was valid till January 16, 2017

As a result, production from the plant is likely to remain frozen from Thursday. The firm is under the joint management of Minerals and Metals Trading Corporation (MMTC), IPICOL and Orissa Mining Corporation.
The 62.5 megawatt gas based and electric powered NINL received the consent to operate for production of 0.6 lakh tonne pig iron, 0.48 tonne SMS, 17.11 lakh tonne sinter plant till January 16, 2017.

However, the plant allegedly went on violating pollution control norms over the last two years. Even toxic effluents like phenol and cyanide were recovered from the plant premises during the visit of the regional officer of SPCB to the plant August 2, 2016. These toxic effluents were polluting the groundwater and atmosphere in the region.

Expressing its concern, the SPCB issued a show-cause notice (14358/22.09.2016) to the steel plant. The plant authorities on receiving the notice assured to spend `99.6 lakh and construct a bio-chemical oxygen demand (BOD) plant on the premises for management of discharge of toxic fluids like phenol and cyanide.

SPCB asked the plant authorities to submit a bank guarantee of `20 lakh and renovate the BOD and make it fully operational by October 31, 2017. The plant authorities conceded to the demanded and deposited the bank guarantee.
However, the authorities never showed any interest in complying with the order of installation of BOD which was evident during the visit of the regional officer to the plant during October, November and December last year.

Phenol and cyanide leaked from the waste water pond while excessive emission was noticed from the bag filter of the coke grinding region of the plant which resulted in pollution of water bodies and tube-wells in the area.

Besides, eight other problems came to notice during the visit of the regional officer. As a result, the member secretary in his letter (2213/15.02.2017) refused to renew the consent to operate of the plant till it complies with the pollution norms.

The SPCB order has pushed the employment of over 400 workers into uncertainty while over 20 persons have died of tuberculosis in adjoining Sarangpur, Nuagaon, Madhapur and Pandapita villages due to pollution. The affected villagers wanted get shifted from the area during an RPDAC meeting held September 14, 2016.

The SPCB order comes despite NINL chairman Vedprakash announcing for revival of the plant at a press meet in Bhubaneswar at an investment of Rs 22,000 crore.
When contacted, NINL officials from its public relations and corporate affairs department said work to meet the SPCB directives is underway and soon the problem will be sorted out.

SPCB regional officer Anup Kumar Mallick refused to renew the consent to operate till the plant complies with pollution control norms.  PNN

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