20 September, 2020

The Scorched Earth

A deluge of fly ash from the Nalco plant ash toxifies Angul, Orissa

The Scorched Earth
It was supposed to be a 'safe' industrial unit, had even won many environmental safety awards, until the ugly truth literally spilled out. And left dazed villagers in its wake. The populace of at least 23 villages surrounding the National Aluminium Company's (Nalco) Alumina Smelter Plant and Captive Power Plant at Angul in central coastal Orissa is still reeling from the flash flood triggered off when the company's dumping pond for fly ash, a by-product of the 720 MW thermal power plant, broke the embankments and swept through 2,400 acres of land. The tide of ash slurry—which surged to about 10 feet in some places—made its way right into the Nandira river. En route, the contents of the 300-acre pond swept away houses, standing crops and livestock. The worst-hit villages are in Angul and Talcher tehsils. Luckily, no human lives were lost.

It's an environmental tragedy of no small proportion. Anywhere else in the world, such an accident would have triggered off an international controversy. In Orissa, it's being played down. A survey is on for accounting the damage in terms...


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