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Mines choke Sukinda
- Two Indian zones among world’s most polluted places

Bhubaneswar, Sept 13: Sukinda valley in Jajpur district is one of the most polluted places in the world, according to a report by US-based Blacksmith Institute, an organisation supporting pollution-related environmental projects.

From India, Sukinda has ranked fourth (see chart) and Vapi, a 400km industrial belt in Gujarat, is fifth on the list of 10 most polluted places.

The valley, about 140km from here, is spread across Dhenkanal and Jajpur districts and has the largest chrome ore deposit in the country; 97 per cent of India’s reserves. Mining is done by opencast method here.

According to the report, “Twelve mines continue to operate without any environmental management plans and over 30 million tonnes of waste rock are spread over the surrounding areas. The mines discharge untreated water into the river. This area is also flood-prone, resulting in further contamination of the waterways.”

The problem is “beyond the means of the state to solve”.

Environmentalists said the report is damning evidence of the impact rampant mining has on Orissa’ environment, not to mention the health of people.

Biswajit Mohanty of Wildlife Society of Orissa said the state government, in its eagerness to please the mining lobby, has even opened up sanctuaries, like the Hadagada in Keonjhar, to companies.

However, chairman of Orissa State Pollution Control Board L.N. Patnaik described the report as “silly”. “I see a lot of personal agenda behind the report. It is a design to stop mining activities. If there is mining there would be some air pollution. But to say that Sukinda is one of worst polluted places in the world is ridiculous,” he told The Telegraph.

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