Essar's power plant located in Mahan, Singauli district witnessed a major dam failure which released toxic fly ash waste into the local community's land and homes.
Fly ash, dumped in huge open mounds and in toxic ponds, is likely to displace migrants and cause large scale air, land and water pollution in the area, adversely affect the health of the people and the environment.
Essar wants to build a coal mine in the adjacent forest, to feed the power plant.
- As one walks into Mahan, fly ash waste consumes the atmosphere present there.
- Marshy fly ash waste seeps through the land affecting the vegetation in the area.
- I follow villager Ram Lalu Jaiswal, as he takes me to his home located in the expansive fly ash dumping ground.
- Over 20 feet of fly ash waste piles high in the surrounding area.
- Villager Rainath Pitapradhan Jaiswal shows us his home surrounded by the fly ash waste resulted by the dam failure.
"After our house sank there has been no report that has been made! No one is listening. The police have been bought over by the company. They have acknowledged the damage of the land, but nothing about our lives or the land. Even after the dams broke, the machines did not stop working. 12 at night the dam broke down and only by 12 in the morning did they stop the machine! They only care about coal."
- Villager Ram Lalu Jaiswal enumerates upon the problems they are facing as a result of the company's negligence and failure to provide any compensation.
"There are 12 people in my family. Where will we go? We will die. They said that there would be schools and hospitals, it would become developed and they would give us jobs. And then what happened? Nothing. They have simply kicked us aside and made fools of us! We once had everything we needed; now we are struggling to even find food to eat. Will we get back our livelihoods or not?"
Photographs and writing by Shashwati Shankar, who is a volunteer with Greenpeace India.