A breach in an artificial pond that stored toxic residue from a coal power plant run by Essar Power MP Ltd has contaminated farmland in a 4-km area in Madhya Pradesh’s Singrauli, villagers living in the area have alleged.
“Five children got stuck in a house. We rescued them around midnight,” said Singrauli district collector KVS Chaudhary. In a photo, the five children are seen covered with white ash on their hair, face and chest as they stood in the dark.
Singrauli, an area shared with Uttar Pradesh where it falls under Sonbhadra district, is home to 10 coal-based power plants with a capacity of over 21,000 megawatt – the largest for one region. These plants have made Singrauli the second most critically polluted industrial zone in the country after Ghaziabad, according to the Central Pollution Control Board.
Essar Power MP Ltd (EPMPL) in a statement said the breach in the ash pond of the coal-fired power plant happened on Wednesday night and alleged it was “a clear case of sabotage”.
“Some 500 farmers are affected after the ash leak. We have called for a preliminary probe and will look into all aspects, including the statement by Essar,” said Mr Chaudhary. “The state and central pollution control officers are taking samples.”
EPMPL in a statement said the pond was breached by “an act of sabotage”; it alleged the villagers were responsible for the “mischief”. “Our security personnel deployed at the location have given a statement to the local police saying that they spotted 4-5 unidentified persons fleeing from the site of the incident last night. We have filed an application for FIR alleging sabotage, and also apprised all local authorities about the incident,” the company said in a statement on its website.