Union Ministry of Steel has asked the state government to send quarterly monitoring report of sponge iron units flouting environment norms along with the reports of other measures taken to curb pollution.
The Central government direction came after a recent parliamentary standing committee meeting on environment, which raised concerns over coal-based sponge iron units.
Following this missive from the Centre, the state government has asked the Odisha Pollution Control Board (OPSCB) to send it a report mentioning the units not abiding with regulations, units that have been shut down for violating environment norms and other relevant information.
The state pollution control agency has already taken some punitive action against the errant industries. It has ordered shut down of 32 sponge iron units. The action followed a detail study by IIT-Kharagpur on the functioning of 104 out of 109 sponge iron plants in the state.
The institute had recommended that these plants should upgrade bag filter and install pneumatic dust handling system to control pollution. As many as 29 sponge iron plants were found to have fully complied with the mitigation measures.
Among the remaining 42 units, 39 plants have since implemented these two measures while for the balance three units, there is a gap of 10 per cent in implementation of the mitigation measures.
The performance of the sponge iron units were reviewed by a technical committee of the OSPCB in September last year.
Besides, it had also ordered to close down 10 kilns of Bhushan Group and a sinter plant of Rourkela Steel Plant of Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) during December 2011 and January 2012, respectively.
In Odisha, the sponge iron plants are mostly concentrated in the Sundergarh (47) and Keonjhar (21) districts with the total production capacity being around 37,000 tonnes per day.