Five villages were inundated with toxic fly ash slurry and a river from where Nagpur draws drinking water was contaminated after a fly ash bund of Koradi Thermal Power Station (KTPS), near Nagpur suffered a breach owing to heavy rainfall.
The fly ash slurry pond near Khasala village damaged large hectare of agricultural fields and inundated Khasala, Masala, Khairi, Kawtha and Suradevi villages. Spreading over smaller nullahs and stream, the slurry ultimately flowed down to Kanhan river. This is nearby to the pumping station site to lift water for Nagpur.
Leena Buddhe, Centre for Sustainable Development (CSD) Director, in Nagpur told IANS: “We have been drawing attention of the authorities regularly but to no avail. KTPS regularly dumps fly ash slurry at this pond near Khasala. During a meeting in June, officials had admitted to a legacy fly ash of 6.27 crore tonne. They don’t treat it further and instead, keep on increasing the height of the bund every now and then to accommodate more slurry.”
CSD was one of the four organisations that had conducted a study in November 2021 which had revealed the extensive and rampant pollution in the areas around Maharashtra State Power Generation Company (MahaGenco’s) 2,400 MW Koradi and 1,340 MW Khaparkheda thermal power plants, both near Nagpur, with both surface and ground water contaminated with toxic metals such as mercury, arsenic, aluminium, lithium etc.
While the Khasala fly ash pond is old one, the new one near Khaparkheda was supposed to be an engineered pond complete with lining.
“But nothing such was done. The company keeps dumping without following any environmental norm,” Buddhe said and demanded that Koradi’s CMD be made personally liable for stringent punishment for playing with the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of vulnerable people.
KTPS officials were not immediately available.
Former Maharashtra Energy Minister and also the State BJP General Secretary, Chandrashekhar Bawankule visited the area later on Saturday afternoon. He assured the people of drawing attention of the state government and ensuring that they received relief soon.
Nagpur district administration claimed that it has repaired the breach and deployed disaster management personnel in the area for helping people.