Two days after the breach in one of the
ash ponds of Jharsuguda-based Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) triggered water
pollution in plant-side Katikela village, locals rose in angry protest
demonstrating in front of the plant gate and lodged an FIR against the VAL
authorities accusing them of playing with people’s lives.
The ash pond cave-in had triggered
flood-like situation damaging the standing croplands. The local residents
were panicked a lot and had fled the village fearing the ash pond slurry
inundating their houses.
Tension had mounted up in the area as
people picketed in front of the VAL disrupting the day-to-day operation of the
aluminium plant. Situation has however been brought under control following
adequate police deployment. No untoward incident has been reported so far and
the picketing is also peaceful in nature, police officials said.
An FIR was lodged by the agitating
villagers. We are examining the merits of the complaint. The opinion of state
pollution control board officials has been sought in this regard, they added.
State pollution control board officials
said “The VAL has been issued notice under pollution control act. The Val
authorities have repaired the ash ponds and slurry discharge into the village
areas has been stopped since past 48 hours. The SPCB personnel made an
on-the-spot assessment of the situation”.
The company is committed to
restore the slurry-affected croplands. The affected farmers would be duly
compensated. The ash pond breach was an accident. The company has initiated
appropriate steps to prevent recurrence of such incidents, said J.K. Mohanty,
the senior vice president of VAL.