NHRC slaps notice on OSPCB over TATA’s toxic release to water bodies

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Bhubaneswar, March 16: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought an action-taken report (ATR) from Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) over TATA’s release of toxic polluted water in Kalinganagar endangering the lives of the people living in villages around.

The apex human rights watchdog slapped the notice while acting on a petition by rights campaigner Subhash Mohapatra. The OSPCB has been directed to submit report within four weeks.

The petitioner alleged that the inaction of authorities of Forests and Environment Department endangered the lives of people of 11 villages having unholy nexus with Tata Steel Plant. The authorities helped the said corporate to release toxic water into water bodies in Odisha’s Jajpur area.

The complainant has alleged that toxic polluted water is being released from the Tata Steel Plant into the Nullah at Kalinganagar. There is a nexus between the officials of Pollution Control Board, Odisha and the officials of the said plant.

The residents of Nuagaon village in particular, which is located near ‘Ganda Nullah’ at Kalinganagar have submitted their grievance representation to the Odisha State Pollution Control Board  that Tata Steel releases toxic and other polluted water into the said Nullah which have been endangering the lives of peoples of several villages. The said polluted water, which is used by  many villagers belonging to Godigotha, Kandiakana, Baghabindha, Barigodha, Trijanga, Kusunupur, Nuagaon, Kharadi, Jodabara, Mangalpur and Balungabanda, created life threats and health hazards.

“Several companies have set up their units in Kalinganagar and all are discharging toxic water without required treatment and prior approval from the concerned authorities. The villagers reported that they found chemical water of Tata Steel was being released into the Nullah. They also appraised the said matter to Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB). The officials only collected water samples from the place where the discharged water of the plant was mixing with the canal water for laboratory test and remain silent over the matter,” Mohapatra contended.

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“It is a clear case of violation of Water and Air Act. Unfortunately, the concerned authorities’ inaction exposes their unholy nexus. It is also the responsibility of the corporate to respect and implement the guiding principles on business and human rights, and the State’s obligations to bring practical realization of the said United Nations guiding principles and to take businesses to task,” he further contended.

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