Jajpur: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the state government to report measures taken by it to contain pollution levels in various cities especially industrial areas by November 6 after pronouncing seven most polluted cities in the state.
Contending that economic development cannot take place at the cost of public health, the NGT has identified 106 cities in the country as “critically polluted city” and “severely polluted city”. The NGT mentioned seven industrial towns of Odisha as most polluted including Kalinganagar industrial area.
Kalinganagar is a steel hub, where the rise in cement grinding industries has increased the pollution levels. Units dealing with cement have contributed to increase air pollution more than the pollution caused by vehicular movement in the city.
Sources said cement industries including Emami Cement, JSW Cement, Jajpur Cement, Chettinad Cement, GM Iron and Steel have begun manufacturing at Kalinganagar since 2017.
Earlier, villagers of Manitar staged protests alleging high level of pollution in the area due to Emami Cement unit.
More than 50,000 people of Kalinganagar were affected due to air pollution and water contamination between 2015 and 2017 for which industries like Nilachal Steel, BRPL, Visa Steel, Jindal Steel, KJ Steel and Rohit Foretake were held responsible. The pollution report said many industries have been discharging untreated effluents into a stream and unpurified smoke into the air causing both water and air pollution in the locality. The report also said more than 200 people had died due to kidney ailments.
According to Central Pollution Control Board, air quality of an area is said to be good if its annual standard of ‘‘suspended particulate matter’’ in air is measured at 60 microgram per cubic metre (μg/m3). But suspended particulate matter in Kalinganagar area was measured at 113 microgram per μg/m3 in 2017 and within two years the micrograms of suspended particulate matter has gone up per cubic meter.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) global air pollution database released in Geneva, India has 14 out of the 15 most polluted cities in the world in terms of PM 2.5 concentrations.
Balasore, Angul, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Rourkela and Talcher are other severely polluted cities in addition to Kalinganagar. The NGT has held SPCB responsible as it failed to take effective measures in curbing suspended particulate matter in the air and in identifying polluting industries.
Environmentalists have warned that given the pollution levels of industries it will be difficult for people to breathe properly within a few years from now.
When contacted SPCB, Kalinganagar regional officer Pramod Kumar Behera said we are evolving an action plan for Kalinganagar industrial area. The plan will show its effectiveness in controlling both air and water pollution in days to come.