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Cracks plugged in plant pipeline

Paradip, Dec. 27: Cracks in the gypsum, an industrial waste, pipeline at the Paradip Phosphate Limited fertiliser plant has led to acidic discharge, affecting the aquatic life, especially fish in the nearby water bodies.

The cracks have been plugged on time. The damage done to the pipelines is minor in nature, said an official.

There are reports of fish and aquatic species dying along the water bodies and creeks located near the plant. The polluted water bodies and creeks owe its connectivity to the Mahanadi river system. However, there is no official confirmation of it as yet.

Joint general manager (personnel and administration) Prafulla Kumar Panda said: “The pipelines connected to phosphoric acid plant ruptured on Wednesday evening at a site inside the plant. The mishap occurred when the plant had been shut down for maintenance. The pipeline used to carry slurry and acidic residue to gypsum ponds on the periphery of the plant. The acidic content in the residue remains were minimal. No damage has been caused to aquatic lives. The ruptured portions was plugged within an hour.”

However, the fishermen communities differed from the version given by the plant authorities. “There are marked signs of asphyxiation on the dead fish,” said Sankhanad Behera, an environmentalist.

“From time to time, this phenomenon of en masse dying of fishes is being reported. Effluents from the nearby fertiliser plants have become the messenger of death for fishes and aquatic animals in the water channels and creeks near Paradip port town,” he said.

“Earlier, we had drawn the attention of local officials. But, the plight of the fishermen community remains the same,” Behera said. Release of industrial effluents into water bodies and rivulets had been reported thrice in the past year.

The industrial units were fertiliser plants of the IFFCO and the PPL, apart from Indian Oil Corporation Limited’s oil refinery project.

A high-level committee of the Assembly led by MLA Amar Prasad Satapathy had pulled up the plant units and issued directions for installation of foolproof safety mechanism. But, things have hardly moved in the desired line with recurrence of acidic discharge by Paradip-based industries, said Pitambar Tarai, a spokesman for the local Traditional Inland Fishermen’s Union.

“Paradip-based marine fisheries personnel have been directed to ascertain whether the acidic disharge affected the fish and aquatic lives. The plant management has, however, plugged the leakage points expeditiously,” said Paradip additional district magistrate Surajit Das.