Industrial effluents are polluting river Konar. Picture by Pankaj Singh
Giving voice to an ongoing public outcry against severe atmospheric pollution, a group of citizens has signed a petition to Governor Syed Ahmed, seeking his intervention in asking Bokaro Thermal Power Station (BTPS) to stop dumping dangerous effluents into the Konar river.
Tuesday’s missive has been signed by prominent citizens, namely R.K Sahu, Maheshwar Mahto and several others, pointing out that the BTPS area was in the grip of a serious health crisis as a result of indiscriminate dumping of coal ash and slurry.
A panchayat member of Govindpur, Binod Kumar Sah, has been on a hunger strike since March 9 to force BTPS to act. He has vowed to continue unless the management of the DVC-run company takes some immediate steps to curb pollution.
Former Bokaro civil surgeon Pramod Kumar said dozens of patients from BTPS township came to him for treatment regularly, complaining of various skin and respiratory diseases. “These were the result of rising water and air pollution,” he told The Telegraph.
Bermo SDO Anita Sahay admitted to the problem, but said that unless the new ash pond being constructed at Noori Nagar was ready — work was going on — the problem of pollution couldn’t be controlled.
“BTPS management has been asked to ensure that pollution levels were reduced at any cost soon,” she said.
But BTPS authorities maintained it was serious about tackling the issue, pointing to the Rs 350 crore it had sanctioned two years ago for a clean-up exercise aimed at zero-discharge of pollutants, primarily ash slurry.
“Bokaro Thermal Power Station is on a serious mission to clean up its act and ensure zero-discharge of harmful effluents into the open and nearby river. The management is now hopeful of achieving its target very shortly,” stated BTPS chief engineer G.D Singh.
Last year, Bokaro district administration had even filed a case against BTPS for releasing hazardous industrial waste into the Konar river in spite of repeated reminders to the DVC–run company to take preventive measures.
The case (1/2012), filed by former Bermo sub-divisional officer (SDO) B.N Choubey in his own court on behalf of the district administration, sought an explanation from BTPS chief engineer G.P Singh under section 133(1K) of IPC dealing with violation of pollution norms.
Jharkhand Pollution Control Board had also served a legal notice to BTPS, directing it to take immediate anti-pollution measures.