Company’s failure to handle fly ash the trigger

The State Pollution Control Board on Saturday asked Hindalco Industries Limited, an Aditya Birla Group company, to shut down its captive power plant at its aluminium smelter near Hirakud in Odisha’s Sambalpur district for company’s failure to handle fly ash.

The ban would remain in force till the company implements the action plan to contain ash slurry in the designated area. The company, however, got a breather when the pollution control board allowed it to draw power from the grid to run the smelter.

It is to be noted that dyke of the settling pond breached on August 8 last that resulted in discharge of ash water to the nearby agricultural fields and canal. Subsequently, the industry was asked to repair the breach immediately and clean the ash from the affected area.

Although the industry had taken up temporary restoration measures by putting sand bags at the damaged portion, due to heavy rains the breached portion again caved in and large volume of ash slurry flowed in to the adjoining fields and irrigation canal.

According to SPCB sources, a team from the board rushed to the site on Friday last. The team reported presence of ash in the canal up to about 10 km and extensive deposit of ash on the adjoining agricultural fields.

“To give a fair trial the top management of the industry were called for a personal hearing on Saturday. They made a presentation on the action plan prepared by them for handling the problem in future. But they failed to convince about prevention of ash-slurry getting in to adjoining areas,” said Sidhant Das, member secretary of SPCB.

Mr. Das said it was decided to issue closure direction to the Captive Power Plants till the action plan was implemented. “During this period they may draw power from the grid to run the smelter.” Hindalco runs the aluminium smelter plant having capacity 1.46 lakh tonne per annum and has CPP of capacity 367.5 MW.

“The plant generates about 3000 tons of ash per day from its CPP, out of which 1000 tonnes are supplied to cement plants and 2000 tonnes are transported by trucks (about 160 truckloads per day) and is deposited as ash-mounds located in a designated site at a distance of about 12 km. The old ash-mounds have been stabilised by earth cover and plantation,” SPCB sources said.

“The mound has several rain-cuts, the slopes have not been properly stabilised and the overall management of the mound is unsatisfactory. This has resulted in breach of the dyke,” SPCB found.

Compensation

Demanding compensation of Rs. 1 lakh per acre of agricultural land damaged by ash slurry, President of State unit of Samajwadi Party Rabi Behera alleged, “The breaching of ash pond is a deliberate attempt to make farmers sell their land at throw away price. The company is on expansion mode. It is a criminal act to damage farmers’ land with ash slurry.”


  • A dyke of the settling pond breached on August 8 resulting in discharge of ash water

  • Due to heavy rain the breached portion caved in and ash slurry flowed into adjoining fields