The polluted Damodar
Bokaro, June 27: Local residents, numbering in thousands, have written a letter to Union environment minister Kamal Nath asking him to intervene and sort out a severe pollution problem that is slow poisoning more than 60 sq km of the industrial sub-division of Bermo.
The letter sent last week and signed by thousands of residents of Phusro, Bokaro Thermal, Kathara, Jarangdih, Chandrapura and nearby areas, said the industrial zone was reeling under the adverse impact of air, water and sound pollution.
Signed by the residents, who include Gomia MLA Madhowlal Singh, Prof. R.K Singh, paediatrician A.K. Srivastav, labour leaders R.P Singh, Mohammed Iqbal, Sunita Devi and Jitendra Mahto, apart from dozens of social organisations, the letter warned of a serious health hazard if urgent efforts weren’t undertaken to check pollution.
According to leading doctors of Bokaro, R.K Singh and former civil surgeon Pramod Kumar, hundreds of patients were turning up at local hospitals everyday, complaining of pollution-related ailments like tuberculosis, asthma, breathlessness, skin diseases etc.
According to Sarayu Roy, the convenor of Damodar Bachao Andolan (DBA), in spite of reports by Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JPCB), neither Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) nor Central Coalfield Limited (CCL) or railways or private companies were taking adequate precautions to control pollution.
Roy said they have for long been asking the companies to stop dumping coal ash in the Damodar to keep the river water clean and take several measures — like using closed containers and sprinkling water regularly — to eliminate dust while transporting coal.
He said another suggestion, blatantly ignored by coal companies, was to ensure that open cast mines were filled with earth after coal was excavated. Roy also alleged that thermal power stations, coal mines and chemical industries were among the largest contributors to pollution in the Bermo sub-division, but none of them were taking an active interest in taking steps to curb pollution.
Bokaro deputy commissioner Amitabh Kaushal said he had already held several rounds of talks with coal companies and thermal power plant officials, adding he would take up the issue again.
“Bokaro Thermal is planning to get rid of two major pollutants — dry ash and coal slurry. Dry ash, coming out from chimneys, covers the area in a 2-3 feet carpet of ash while coal slurry dumped in overflowing ash ponds percolates to residential areas,” he said.
“I have also asked officials of DVC and forest department to launch a massive afforestation drive,” he added, “besides taking other initiatives to make Bermo pollution free.”
CCL sources, however, claimed the company had already begun an awareness programme with focus on proper disposal of waste, besides undertaking a project to plant more than 1 lakh saplings in Dhori, Bokaro, Kargli and Kathara during the ongoing monsoons.
GM of CCL Kathara colliery zone S.K Mishra said they had already taken several anti-pollution initiatives.