Pradeep Pattanayak

Round-the-clock plying of coal-laden trucks to railway siding has brought untold hardship to the residents of eight panchayats of Tomka area in Jajpur district.  

The aggrieved villagers alleged that the plying of hundreds of coal-laden trucks have damaged the village roads to such an extent that even cyclists are hesitating to commute on the stretches. While the roads are riddled with potholes and craters, the coal dust keeps flying from moving coal-laden trucks giving commuters a nightmarish experience. The worst sufferers are school-going children. 

This apart, a thick layer of black dust can be seen on roadside trees and rooftops. Layers of dust on vegetable and paddy fields make them unfit for consumption. 

The affected villagers have been demanding a solution to this problem but to no avail. Fed up with the local administration’s inertia, the villagers warned that if nothing is done to end their sufferings, they would launch an agitation. 

“The coal transportation has made our lives miserable. I want the coal transportation should stop for good,” said Binati Mahanta, a local resident.  

Another fumed resident, Baidhar Mahanta alleged, “The real problem arises when there is a need to shift a serious patient to hospital. We can’t take a patient to hospital as the road is always found blocked by the coal-laden ten-wheelers. We want the coal transportation should be stopped.”

“According to the standing direction, there shouldn’t be coal transportation between 9 am to 10 am. But this has been flouted. Our children are reluctant to go to school. The spraying of water is only adding to our woes. The slushy roads are causing accidents as well,” observed Mamata Rani Mahanta. 

“Production of paddy has badly been affected due to the coal dust flowing into paddy fields along with rainwater. The number of patients suffering from diseases is increasing. We want immediate stoppage of coal transportation,” said Sukadev Patra a local resident. 
When contacted, ADM, Kalinga Nagar, Santosh Kumar Patra said, “I have asked the Odisha State Pollution Control Board’s regional officer to visit the area and take preventive measures.”

(Reported by Janmenjay Dash from Jajpur, OTV)