Keonjhar: Transportation of iron ore pellets from Gualdiha railway siding under Sadar block in this district to various destinations is causing great problems for the nearby villagers. The ‘Dalit Advasi Mahasangha’ here has recently submitted a memorandum to the District Collector, urging him for the removal of the railway siding.
Daily hundreds of tippers and trucks are plying through Hungula, Bankmaruni, Jadichatar, Putulia, Padmapur, Ratanpur, Birakishorepur, Dabank, Nuagaon and Gualdiha villages, carrying pellets from nearby iron and steel factories to Gualdiha.
This daily transportation is not only damaging the village roads but also polluting the air, giving rise to serious health issues.
“During transportation pellets usually spill over to the roads. These unattended and scattered pellets are causing accidents. In some cases lives have been lost too,” alleged some of the villagers.
However, so far their demands have fallen on the deaf years of the administrations. Hence resentment is brewing among the residents of all the villages which lie on the transportation route.
The trucks carrying the pellets also have an adverse effect on cultivation. The pellet dusts spill out in large quantities and settle on farmland and affects its fertility. Villages which have been hit the most are Ratanpur, Birakishorepur, Dabank, Nuagaon and Gualdih. The pollution damage has led to poor produce, be it paddy or vegetables.
The pollution level has reached such a stage that even the water bodies have been affected. When this correspondent visited a couple of villages, a layer of pellet dust over ponds was visible to the naked eye also.
However, without any other sources, the villagers have no other option but to use the polluted water both for drinking and washing purposes. A number of villagers have developed skin and stomach diseases because of this.
Bideshi Naik, the president of Dalit Adivasi Mahasangha, a large number of villagers, social organisations and several environmentalists have urged the Collector to relocate the siding. But so far nothing has happened yet. “If the siding is not removed or relocated, we will resort to strikes and agitation in the coming days,” said Naik.