Two villagers died and four were missing after a fly ash dyke of Reliance’s power plant in Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh was breached on Friday, NDTV reported. The breach at the coal-based plant caused spillage on several acres of agricultural fields and is the third such incident of ash leak in the last one year in Singrauli.
A team of 30 members of the National Disaster Response Force is involved in the search operation for other villagers. “So far two bodies of an eight-year-old boy and a 35-year-old man have been recovered from the ash slurry, around seven km away towards the border with Uttar Pradesh,” Singrauli District Collector KVS Chaudhary said. “Four more persons including the boy’s sister, 9, his mother, and the 35-year-three-year-old man’s son are still missing.”
Congress leader and former Chief Minister Kamal Nath said that the state government should provide compensation to farmers who suffered due to the incident. “This whole matter should be investigated and whosoever is found guilty, strict action should be taken,” he tweeted.
Chaudhary said that the breach occurred owing to the negligence of the plant and compensation will be given to the villagers.
Reliance Power in a statement said that it is investigating the reasons behind the ash leak. “The break in the ash dump yard wall pushed the water leading to break in the boundary wall affecting some thatched houses and minor land parcel,” the company added. “Power plant operations, which are not disrupting the relief work will continue.”
Last year, villagers had protested against the power plant in the area. “Thousands of acres of land has been ruined, crops have been damaged,” a local identified as Sandeep told reporters. “Two dead bodies have been found. A negligence case should be filed against the district administration, CEO of the power plant.”
Ashwani Kumar Dubey, a lawyer who fought cases related to pollution in Singrauli, said all power companies in the area had assured the National Green Tribunal team few months back that their ash dykes were in proper condition. “Singrauli is a critical zone in the country. Many directions have been passed in the past but no one seems to listen,” he added.
In August last year, after a similar breach in a power plant run by Essar, the company had alleged it was “a clear case of sabotage”. However, a government report on the breach had blamed “extreme carelessness by the company management” and held them responsible for a sub-standard boundary and not clearing waste material from the boundary. Five children were rescued and more than 500 farmers in Madhya Pradesh suffered crop losses because of the incident.