Environmental costs of production are negligible in Orissa since no one uses pollution control equipment.
Bhubaneswar , June 6
A NEW wave of industrialisation threatens to make the people of Orissa environmental refugees in their own land.
The State's air, water, wildlife and people's livelihoods are being destroyed by the so-called industrial blitzkrieg, according to environmentalists.
Spurred by the spiralling demand for steel and aluminium in the international market, several conglomerates have come forward to set up metal production units to exploit the mineral resources of the State.
Instead of planning for metal production spread over the next 100-200 years, the State Government has adopted a "myopic and self-destructive" policy of exhausting the entire stock of 3,120 million tonnes of iron ore and 1,626 mt of bauxite within 20-25 years, according to environmental activist Mr Biswajit Mohanty.
The industrialisation boom is expected to result in massive environmental degradation since the local environment has a limited "carrying capacity" to absorb and assimilate effluents and wastes produced due to such gigantic production facilities being squeezed within a very short time, Mr Mohanty said in a statement.
Due to the abysmal enforcement of pollution control laws by the State Pollution Control Board, environmental costs of production are negligible in Orissa since no one uses pollution control equipment such as electrostatic precipitators. As many as 64 sponge iron units in Keonjhar and Sundargarh districts have destroyed drinking water sources and agriculture fields, Mr Mohanty said.
The State has planned for hiking its annual steel production to 56 mt, which shall require about 2,250 mt of iron ore over the next 25 years. Currently, the State produces only 1.6 mt of steel from the Rourkela Steel Plant which shall jump by 35 times by 2010, thereby causing severe environmental degradation, he said.
The additional steel making capacity shall require at least 527 million cubic metres of fresh water which shall be drawn from its major rivers such as Mahanadi, Brahmani and Baitarani leading to severe environmental and livelihood losses, Mr Mohanty warned.
To meet the requirement of 56 mt of steel, 33 mt of coke has to be produced which shall require the burning of nearly 55 mt of fossil coal (20 per cent of India's projected output) which will release harmful gases. An additional coal-fired power generating capacity of 22,000 MW is expected to be added in Orissa. This shall generate about three per cent of the green house gas (GHG). This is expected to rise multifold once the new industries and power plants are commissioned. GHG emission from Orissa is expected to jump to five per cent of global emission level by 2010 leading to massive climate change in the State, Mr Mohanty said.