14 September, Bhubaneswar
The Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) on Thursday issued notice to Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL) and asked it to close down five of its units in the state.
The company has been asked to shut two units at the thermal power plant and three units at the Captive Power Plant (CPP) in Jharsuguda district’s Katikela area.
Following a breach in the ash pond dyke wall in Jharsuguda at the end of August, the OSPCB served a direction resulting in a temporary closure of three units of 135 MW each of the 1,215 MW CPP, and two units of 600 MW each of the 2,400 MW power plant.
The remaining units of the 1,215 MW plant have been allowed to operate until October 12 and the remaining units of the 2,400 MW plant until September 20 this year.
“Consent to operate in respect of 3×135 MW out of total 1215 MW CPP is hereby revoked and you are hereby directed to close down operation of 3×135 MW CPP forthwith and restrict power generation up to 810 MW (6×135 MW),” said the notice.
The pollution control board has also asked the company to comply with its directive not to discharge any industrial effluent and ash slurry from the ash pond area to any water body and land.
The OSPCB’s move comes after a breach in Vedanta plant’s ash pond No 2 embankment near Katikela on August 28 that led to inundation of ash on agricultural land at the village.
The incident led to severe resentment in the area as locals demanding compensation locked VAL’s main gate.
However, the company in a statement to BSE and NSE said: “The SPCB has asked the company for compliance of certain conditions with a concrete plan within five days. The company is complying with the order of SPCB along with a request for revoking the said closure orders.”
It said this action may require a temporary power purchase of up to 200 MW, and hence a marginal impact on cost of production of aluminium.
The company expects to be able to sustain the smelter capacity without affecting its production volume and is working towards the lifting of the closure orders at the earliest to ensure that aluminium production is not affected, said the statement.