Nagpur: With the pallu of her saree covering her head, Shakuntala Shende made her way from
the village health centre to her house in a narrow lane in Nagpur district’s Khairi village, a visit
she makes several times in a year. She has patches on her hands that have turned black and
itch painfully. The treatment she gets at the health centre provides temporary relief, but then
the patches return.

Shende’s village is one of many in the district affected by coal ash pollution from two thermal
power plants (TPPs). The ash has polluted the region’s air, the river water and groundwater,
according to government documents and an independent study. The government-owned
company, Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Limited (commonly known as
Mahagenco‘), which owns the power plants, recently stopped the dumping of ash into a
new ash pond in the area after repeated complaints, but the ash accumulated over decades
in other ponds continues to threaten the health and water security of villagers.