The chemical oil and industrial wastewater which is flowing from the canals of NTPC-Bongaigaon Thermal Power Project near Salakati in Kokrajhar district of Assam is causing massive damage to paddy fields in villages located in immediate vicinity to the power project.
It is reported that a lot of fishes have died and the villagers cannot even take their cattle for a bath in the nearby Champawati River as the water has got polluted due to the alleged overflow of chemical oil from the power unit. It is reported that even the villagers are not being able to take bath in the river or use the river water for other purposes.
Farmers are now demanding compensation from the authorities of NTPC in Salakati. Croplands affected by due to the wastewater includes – Rateswari Devi – 10 bigha, Bhaduri Barman – seven bigha, Rani Murmu – 26 bigha, Lakhi Kanta Barman – 2 bigha, Lankeswar Barman – 2 bigha, Bhoko Bala Barman – 2 bigha, Mangal Murmu – 3 bigha , Surahi Murmu – 2.5 bigha, Sarkar Murmu – 2.5 bigha and Bagrai Hembrom – 12 bigha.
The villagers also alleged that the Bongaigaon NTPC authorities were not keeping environmental norms in mind while running the power project which was causing “extensive damage” to the ecosystem of Salakati area. The villagers further alleged that the authorities “intentionally allowed the industrial wastewater coming out from the power plant to flow into the paddy fields resulting in the crops getting totally damaged and the effluents also caused much harm to the soil fertility”.
The villagers living in the immediate vicinity of the power plant also said that the smell which the wastewater was emitting was causing huge health hazards not only to the people but also to the livestock and opined that the NTPC authorities “cannot be allowed to go on polluting the environment merrily”.
The farmers demanded adequate and proper compensation from the NTPC Salakati authorities and the “wastewater flowing out from the power unit right to our agricultural fields should be stopped pronto”. The agriculturists also said that if they were not properly compensated the NTPC authorities would have to face “undesirable consequences”.
The farmers said that they were not against the project, but they would not allow the same to run at “peril to the villagers’ lives”. They said that it was the duty of the power project authorities under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to do “welfare for the local community rather than causing harm to them. We, therefore, demand adequate compensation from your company for causing huge damage to our paddy crops”.
Meanwhile, a team of NTPC officials led by Tonmey Dutta, Assistant General Manager (HR), Salakati NTPC, visited the villages (read where paddy fields have got damaged) on Saturday to get a first-hand grip of matters. He also said that from now on a “strict vigil would be kept to see that industrial effluents do not find their way into the nearby paddy fields and Champawati River”.