While the city is striving hard for more green cover and less air pollution, a crematorium located in the heart of the city is emitting hazardous pollutants.
The air pollution is so high that anyone passing through the Janpath during cremation of bodies will feel suffocated as the smoke emanating from the burning chamber through the windows engulfs the area. Though a chimney is there to direct the smoke through it, smoke is coming out of windows instead of the chimney.
Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) sources said the smog generated from burning of bodies emits Particulate Matter (PM-10), which can cause pulmonary diseases. "While the permissible limit of PM-10 is 100 microgram per metre cube, the raw smog (unfiltered) released through windows raises PM-10 up to 200 microgram. In residential areas, this is very harmful," said OSPCB regional officer (Bhubaneswar) Hadibandhu Panigrahi.
Local residents blame the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) for lack of maintenance of the crematorium. The crematorium has both electric chamber and traditional facility to burn bodies. "While the electric chamber remains defunct six months in a year, burning bodies using firewood is causing pollution. The chimney has been erected but it has not been repaired since long as a result the smog is not filtered through the chimney," said Ashok Kumar Padhi, a local resident.
Last year some green campaigners appealed to the civic body to promote use of electric chamber for burning bodies to control pollution. Since faith is attached to the use of firewood, the religious leaders should come forward and initiate a campaign. "If it starts from them, people will shed their traditional beliefs and accept the electricity system in cremation of bodies," said green campaigner Ranjan Panda.
The crematorium has a 45-KW electric chamber to burn bodies besides three platforms for manual cremation. "We will send the engineering department officials to inspect the crematorium soon to fix the problem. In case the chimney is not working, we will repair it and ensure that there is no further pollution due to burning of bodies," said city mayor Anant Narayan Jena. At Swargadwar in Puri, scientific chimney was installed by the OSPCB last year after National Green Tribunal (NGT) pointed out that burning of bodies polluted the town.