Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh: Farmer Bablu Chouhan is waging a daily battle to clear the constant barrage of fly ash, which is turning his 5-acre farmland in Dogalia village barren. Almost all his family members are ill.
The fly ash is coming from two 500-hectare ponds, where the Shree Singaji Thermal Power Plant has been dumping fly ash. And it is affecting not only Dogalia, but a dozen other villages in this part of Khandwa district.
"We are facing a lot of problems. All my family members have become sick. There was no yield in my field," said Mr Chouhan.
He knows fly ash is capable of causing silicosis or even tuberculosis. "I have sought help from everyone but have received no help," he said.
Earlier this month, more than 1,000 villagers, with support from Congress, had held protests outside the power plant, forcing the district administration to order pollution tests and issue notice to Shree Singaji Thermal Power Plant.
But the Madhya Pradesh Power Generating company denies that fly ash is the reason for the problems, even though since the protest, it has been carrying out medical tests on villagers.
Himani Santule, Additional Chief Engineer of the power plant, said, "It is not just fly ash which is suspended in air but also sand and other particles from soil. So it is not only ash that's the problem."
Additional District Magistrate Anurag Saxena said, "The plant has to come up with a permanent solution. They will have to come up with a plan and we will ensure that they implement it."
The district administration has given the plant officials a week's time to contain the fly ash problem. The officials now claim they are working towards a permanent solution. But for now, they are hoping it rains, which will help set the fly ash in the pond and bring temporary relief.