Effluents from Bokaro Thermal Power Station flow into the Konar river. Picture by Pankaj Singh
Fresh discontent is brewing among the residents of nearby localities of Bokaro Thermal Power Station (BTPS), who are once again up in arms against the DVC-owned company for allegedly dumping effluents into Konar river.
The residents, who had protested on the same issue in 2013 and the year before that, said they were planning to write to the management of the Bermo-based plant, seeking to know why no concrete step was being taken by it to deal with the pollution problem once and for all.
Besides the local people, BTPS had also earned the wrath of the Bokaro district administration and Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB) in the past for failing to check discharge of coal ash and slurry into the river.
The plant, which has an installed capacity of 630MW, currently discharges toxic waste into four ash ponds. However, two of these ash ponds, the residents claimed, have breaches and the slurry overflows and gushes into the nearby Konar.
“We will write a letter to the BTPS authorities tomorrow (Wednesday) and ask them to explain why effluents are being dumped into the river as the health of more than 10,000 residents is at stake. Two of the ash ponds owned by BTPS have become non-functional as they have gaps and openings through which the slurry spills over and contaminates the water of Konar. The other two ash ponds are 70 per cent to 80 per cent full,” said panchayat member of Govindpur Binod Kumar Sah, who had earlier staged hunger strikes in protest against the high level of pollution in Konar.
He further pointed out that aquatic life like fish was also bearing the brunt and if immediate steps were not taken to prevent pollution, everyone would have to pay a heavy price.
Project manager of BTPS Pramod Kumar, however, denied dumping of slurry into the river. “We only discharge slurry into our existing four ash ponds. Two more of around 10,000 cubic metres each have been created and will be commissioned soon after the JSPCB gives its approval,” he added.
Last year, the BTPS management had shut down its plant for a week from October 25 to clean up the four ash ponds after the JSPCB asked it not to release effluents into Konar.
In 2012, Bokaro district administration had filed a case against BTPS for releasing hazardous industrial waste into Konar river despite repeated reminders 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.