Residents of Thelkoloi village under Rengali block in Sambalpur district staged a demonstration outside the village temple on Thursday morning protesting the alleged dumping of fly ash in open areas by the Bhushan Power & Steel Limited (BPSL), situated in the vicinity of the village.
The Sambalpur Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) and Inspector-in-Charge (IIC) of Thelkoloi Police Station have reached the spot and are trying to hold a discussion with the agitating villagers who have held a sit-in outside the temple.
On Wednesday, the villagers had staged a dharna outside the main gate of the plant after putting a lock on it. However, they withdrew their agitation after the company officials assured them of calling a meeting today at 9.30 am to find a solution to the problem.
As per reports, the villagers, including a large number of women, went on a fresh protest after the concerned company officials failed to turn up for the scheduled meeting today.
The villagers complained that the areas in close proximity to the steel plant have been covered under a blanket of smoky dust and fly ash.
“Due to strong winds these days, the ash is causing respiratory problems and irritation in eyes, forcing the villagers to stay indoors. On normal days, too, the movement gets restricted due to the dust. Besides, drinking water sources are also getting contaminated due to fly ash. Our lives have become miserable,” said an anguished villager.
Another villager alleged, “The company officials had assured us yesterday of a discussion over the issue today. But they didn’t come to the meeting. We have been struggling due to air pollution since the last 20 years and we want a permanent solution to it,” he added.
Meanwhile, the SDPO at Sambalpur said, “We heard the complaints of the villagers. The company authorities are yet to reach for the meeting. Once they come, we will try to find a way out through negotiations.”
On the other hand, the JSW Bhushan Power & Steel Limited authorities are yet to respond to the allegations levelled by the villagers.