The letter presented to Minister, during his visit to Nandgaon, calls for a permanent ban on fly ash dumping and complete restoration of ash pond.

February 14, 2022

Nagpur, India: A group of mothers from Nandgaon met Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray on Monday and submitted a detailed letter highlighting how their children were suffering from several health ailments due to water and air pollution caused by fly ash from Khaperkheda Thermal Power Station (KTPS).

Calling for permanent closure and restoration of the Nandgaon flyash dumpsite to protect the future generation of the village, the letter was written by the mothers who are a part of Mahila Bachat Gat (Self Help Group), which is a member of the Warrior Moms national movement.

Led by Sonali Manoj Varkhade, Sarpanch from Nandgaon, the mothers thanked Thackeray for his timely intervention directing State bodies to ensure the immediate halt of the fly ash dumping.

While the present action has certainly brought relief, we requested the minister that this ban on flyash dumping should be permanent, and it is also crucial to urgently repair the damage caused by this ash,” said Varkhade adding that unless the area is restored, the dumped ash will spread to other villages, farms and rivers after drying in the summer. “The future of our children will not be secure till the complete ash removal is carried out,” she said.

The mothers told Thackeray how several generations have been living in Nandgaon. They told him how their village was one of the cleanest with a pristine environment surrounded by forests. With the Pench river flowing nearby, this land used to be a haven for cattle grazing, regular wildlife sightings.

Presenting the current contrasting picture, the mothers told Thackeray that in the last few months huge mounds of ash was regularly dumped half a kilometre away from Nandgaon village destroying the natural environment.

Our children are drinking water mixed with ash since water sources including the Pench river are polluted with flyash. This has had serious health consequences. On the other hand, this ash has also destroyed our farmlands and livelihood leading to a financial crisis, the impact of which will have to be borne by our children too,” said Mayabai Punhe, mother and resident of Nandgaon.

The letter stated how mothers from Nandgaon were working hard for the future of their children. “Children dream of a bright future. But the ashes of the thermal power plant are casting a shadow of crisis over this dream. That is why we are making this request to you,” the letter concluded.

Warrior mom Ashwini Thakare spoke on behalf of the Nandgaon mothers and asked a direct question to the Minister whether the closure of the ash pond was a temporary stoppage or a permamnent one, to which he replied that it is permanent stoppage. The villagers clapped and welcomed this decision. Nagpur based Centre for Sustainable Development (CFSD) will also work with the women of Nandgaon at the Minsters request.

Aaditya Thackeray, Cabinet Minister (Environment, Tourism and Protocol), Maharashtra, said, We announced the permanent closure of the Nandgaon ash pond today. When I spoke with mothers, they expressed genuine concern and fear for their children. Our main priority is the safety and security of the people. I have assured the mothers that all necessary actions will be done to restore the environment.”

The Minister added that in next 10 days, a plan will be prepared for the upliftment & employment opportunities for locals of Nandgaon.