- Essar Power MP Ltd held responsible for toxic ash leak in Madhya Pradesh
- Report highlights sub-standard walls around ponds containing toxic ash
- Essar, which deposited 50 lakh as compensation, has alleged "sabotage"
A three-member committee investigating the leak of toxic material from a coal-fired power plant in Singrauli distict in Madhya Pradesh has blamed owners Essar Power MP Ltd. for the incident. The committee, which consists of a police officer, a sub-divisional magistrate and an engineer, accused Essar Power MP of "extreme carelessness of company management" and held them responsible for a sub-standard boundary and not clearing waste material from the boundary.
Asked to comment, an Essar Power MP spokesman told NDTV the company had yet to study the complete report, but highlighted its "unblemished record of compliance with all laws, rules and regulations" and the fact it had "initiated clean-up to prevent damage".
The spokesperson also reiterated the company's position that "the allegedly affected land belongs to Essar Power MP de facto and de jure... acquired after paying due compensation to the residents as required in law", and that the people who live on the land are encroachers.
More than 500 farmers were affected and farmland in a four-kilometre radius around the power plant was contaminated after last week's leak of toxic ash. In its initial statement, Essar Power MP Ltd (EPMPL) had alleged it was "a clear case of sabotage" and accused the villagers of "mischief".
The committee's report, which was first accessed by NDTV, blamed Essar Power MP for a poorly constructed and maintained boundary around ash ponds, which store the harmful by-product of a coal-fired power plant. Coal ash is extremely harmful and contains toxins including arsenic.
According to government and pollution control norms, ash ponds must be reinforced with concrete walls and regulations require these ponds are not used beyond their capacity.
The report has also warned authorities that if the boundaries are not promptly repaired, the toxic material could poison local water sources.
Essar Power MP has deposited Rs. 50 lakh as compensation to the farmers, as instructed by local authorities. However, when NDTV raised the issue of 450 farmers having to be compensated from that amount, Chief Minister Kamal Nath ordered the district administration to review the amount, stating that his government would not let farmers suffer.
The Singrauli district of the state, an area shared with Uttar Pradesh's Sonbhadra district, is home to 10 coal-based power plants with a capacity of over 21,000 MW - 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.
Follow NDTV for latest election news and live coverage of assembly elections 2019 in Maharashtra and Haryana.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.