An Ash Dam, constructed by Essar Power Plant which is located 35 kms from Singrauli district, was broken on August 7th, due to incessant rains in the area.
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.
The fly-ash dyke reportedly turned into a mudslide and hit Khairahi and Karsualal villages around 10 pm. The children were sleeping when the fly-ash slurry flooded their homes.
Five children were rescued and more than 500 farmers suffered crop losses. There was huge loss of property as huts and animals were swept away.
“Initial investigations reveal that there was negligence on the part of the power company,” Singrauli District Collector KVS Chaudhary told The Times of India. “The spill has damaged crops and soil. It’s also seeping into the river.” He said the water resources department had formed a committee to analyse the incident.
“Children were rescued well in time,” Chaudhary added. “We have put 20 patwaris on the task to ascertain crop loss.”
The company, meanwhile, said families continued to live on the non-agricultural land it owns beside the ash pond “at their own risk as encroachers despite repeated requests from EPMPL”.
“Our security personnel deployed at the location have given a statement to the local police saying that they spotted four to five unidentified persons fleeing from the site of the incident last night,” it claimed. “We have filed an application for FIR alleging sabotage, and also apprised all local authorities about the incident.”
Meanwhile, Essar Power MP Ltd (EPMPL) in a statement alleged that the ash leak was “a clear case of sabotage”.