Ash storm forces closure of school at Durgapur

The industrial town of Durgapur, which is already ill-famed for its high degree pollution, is under the grip of a fresh pollution menace in the form of ash storm. Life for the residents around the thermal power plant of Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) at Durgapur’s DTPS colony has become unbearable. Conditions have worsened to such an extent those schools in the vicinity, like the Angadpur High School had to be closed down by the authority.

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Fly ash storm at Durgapur’s Angadpur area

Four hundred students of Durgapur’s Angadpur High School were yesterday deprived of their mid-day meals, thanks to the fly ash from the Damodar Valley Corporation. The ash carried by the wind sheltered on the cooked meal, rendering it unfit for consumption. The situation turned so grave today that the teachers had to suspend classes fearing that the ash may pose health hazards in students.
Local sources say that the dump yard of fly ash just beside the boundary wall of the school is the main source of the pollution. This has been quite a familiar picture in the areas surrounding the DVC. The fly ashes, dumped in ash ponds, are carried to the abandoned coal pits of PSU coal companies by the private handler agencies.
The local residents of Angadpur and Raturia villages in ward numbers 37 and 38 in the Durgapur Municipal Corporation area complained that the nor’wester wind carries ash that at times immerse the locality in darkness and has been inconveniencing people of late. Locals complain that their houses get filled with dusts which get mixed with even food. “Our bedsheets also get soiled. We cannot ride bikes as dust gets into our eyes,” said Bishnu Ghosh and Sadananda Majhi, local residents.
After the news of the school came in, the local councillor and Mayor In Council (health) of DMC, Mrs Lovely Roy, rushed to the spot led a strong agitation demanding stern action against the DVC authority. Mrs Roy said: “This is inhuman and the DVC won’t be spared. They deserve to be penalised for this offence as they don’t have the right to inconvenience people.”
Meanwhile, the locals under the leadership of the local Trinamool leader, Ashok Dutta, carried three dumpers of ash and dumped those in front of the house of Mr S M Pali, Superintending Engineer (Civil), DVC. The DVC took stock of the situation. The senior officials, however, refused to comment on the issue.
DGM of DVC Mr. B. K. Singha however said that pollution related problem is quite common with thermal power plants. But he assured that immediate steps will be taken to take care of the situation.
The West Bengal Pollution Control Board too has expressed concern over the matter. Dr Sisir Mondal, Environmental Engineer at the WBPCB’s regional office, here said: “The DVC is supposed to take adequate measures. We will conduct a probe.”

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