Jajpur: The Odisha State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) has served a show-cause notice on Ramco Cement over pollution in Dharmasala area of this district. The SPCB has sought the reply within 15 days from Ramco Cement on alleged violation of environment protection norms. The development comes after 10 days of publication of a report on alleged inaction by the pollution watchdog in Orissa POST.
In the show-cause notice, the SPCB has warned that legal proceedings will be initiated against the cement plant authorities if the latter fail to file satisfactory replies.
Locals alleged that the inaction, despite glaring violation of pollution norms by the plant, was due to the bonhomie between the firm’s management and the administration and some influential leaders.
People of peripheral villages such as Sribantpur, Guaranga, Khunta, Batijanga, Bhaturuposi, Tolara, Thanuala, Jogada, Muraripur, Nanapur, Haridaspur, Bhadanga, Bajabati and Rathia have alleged that they have been bearing the brunt of air and water pollution caused by the cement plant. This is happening at a time when the Odisha government is emphasizing on pollution control and protection of greenery and regeneration of forests.
Notably, after repeated media reports about pollution from the Ramco Cement plant, a special team of scientists from the regional office of SPCB had taken stock of the situation. They found the level of air pollution of more than 120 particulate matter (PM). The team suspected that the bag filter of the plant might not be working properly.
Locals alleged that a layer of dust settles over houses, trees, ponds and water bodies in 10 villages lying within the vicinity of 500 metres of the plant.
As per SPCB norms, there should a green cover around the plant to ensure safety to the villages. Locals, however, said no such green cover has been created here. Besides, the plant has no solid waste management system as prescribed in Environment Protection Act.
Earlier, upset over pollution, locals approached March 23 the sub-divisional magistrate by furnishing documental evidence on pollution and violation of norms by Ramco Cement.
Hearing the case March 28, the magistrate had directed the managing director and the public relations officer of Ramco Cement to appear before the court April 12 along with necessary documents. However, the officials had not appeared before the court, triggering anger among the locals.
SPCB regional officer Pramod Kumar Behera admitted that SPCB investigation had found that Ramco Cement was causing water and air pollution. A report in this regard was submitted to the SPCB in March. A show-cause notice has been issued to Ramco Cement. Pollution status in the areas will be reviewed after 15 days, Behera informed.