Sharmili Mallick

Keonjhar: A major fire broke out at an abandoned biodiesel production plant located at Raghuala Sahi under Champua police limits of Keonjhar district on Friday evening.

Though no casualties have been reported yet, the flames have engulfed the nearby forest and farmland destroying rich medicinal plants and cultivation in huge tract of land, said locals. The fire has also damaged property worth lakhs of rupees at the plant, said reports.

Moreover, the smoke emanating from the mishap site engulfed the nearby villages including Saraspasi, Ramachandrapur, Kodagadia, Raghuala, Naradpur triggering health concern among the local residents.

Fire tenders and local police were pressed into service immediately after the incident. Locals along with the rescue team managed to douse the flames after some hours of fire fighting, said reports.

The biodiesel plant was set up by a neighboring Chhattisgarh based company few years back and used to supply furnace oil to several factories. The plant was established on rent on one local resident Paremeshawar's farmland.

However, the company ran at a loss following which it stopped manufacturing and shut down the plant. Seven tank-full of bio-diesel were also left abandoned inside the plant.

Despite repeated requests by Parmeshawar to the concerned company authorities to take back the tankers, no steps were taken to remove the vehicles from the premises of the plant.

On Friday evening, fire broke out in nearby jungle which spread to the plant and caught the seven tankers parked in the factory. The exact amount of property gutted in fire mishap will be known after a detailed investigation.

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)