After President’s mention, focus back on Mahanadi pollution

Sambalpur: A day after President Ram Nath Kovind stressed on Centre’s plans to extend the ‘Namami Gange’ scheme up to Odisha, the focus has again shifted on the rampant pollution in Mahanadi, the life line of the State.

At present, polluted water from several industries is being directly discharged into Mahanadi river. Similarly, untreated waste water, hazardous chemicals and oils, sewage, and other waste from industries like Bhushan and Vedanta is going directly into Bheden river in Jharsuguda.

A few days back, mass deaths of hundreds of fish was also reported from the region.

“Pollution level in Mahanadi has increased so much that it is not fit to be used for drinking and bathing purposes,” said Naresh Nayak, a Jharsuguda resident.

A Sambalpur resident, Manas Ranjan Bakshi, said, “Mahanadi river has virtually turned into a drain as dirty water is going into the river.”

Not only in Sambalpur and Jharsuguda, major rivers in 19 places and 11 places under the Mahanadi system have been identified as most polluted. Specific areas of Gangua, Daya, Kathajodi, Kuakhai and Luni river have been marked as extremely polluted.

The pollution level in Mahanadi is the highest and it is being said that the water between Sambalpur and Paradip has become highly toxic.

Deputy Commissioner of Sambalpur Municipality, Subhankar Mohanty, said, “After fixing the sewerage system, the water carrying effluents will be treated first and then will be discharged directly into the river.”

As per the direction of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Central Pollution Control Board has sought a report from the Odisha government.

“Industries dealing with coal mining are the biggest source of pollutants in Mahanadi river,” said environmentalist Ranjan Panda.

Debidutta Biswal, a member of State Pollution Control Board, said, “Untreated urban discharge and bathing of cattle in the river water are the biggest reasons behind water pollution.”

While addressing the joint session of the Parliament yesterday, Kovind said, “Under the Namami Gange scheme, my government will further accelerate the campaign for closure of drains releasing effluents into the river Ganga. The government will also endeavour to clean up major rivers such as Mahanadi, Kaveri, Periyar, Narmada, Yamuna and Godavari.”