This is a Google Maps image of the Ash Lake in Vallur, Tamil Nadu
Seetha and her husband invite us into their home to show us how, even though their house remains closed all day, the ash and dust still manages to make its way in. Seetha lifts her mattress to show me just how invasive this ‘dust’ is - a fine layer coats the wooden surface under the mattress.
Kalpana and Bhaskar, residents of Kuruvimedu Village in Tamil Nadu, both live about a 100 feet away from the fly ash dump. Their house and their belongings are covered in layers of ash and coal dust, all year round. Even if they leave their doors and windows shut, dust still manages to make its way inside their homes.
Seetha, Kalpana and Bhaskar are just three of the many people with troubling stories about the way the ash has literally smothered their lives. There isn't a single household in this village where someone hasn’t been gravely ill. Most of the villagers are daily wage workers, some even working at the power station. They say that most of their earnings are usually spent on medical bills and hospital visits.
Pictured here is one of the 4 solar micro grid installations in Dharnai Village, Bihar. Yes, there are many parts of India that remain in darkness even today, without access to electricity. So yes, there is tremendous demand; indeed, a great and constantly growing need for affordable energy. But we must consider all the costs of energy production and distribution when we think of making energy ‘cheap’? And surely, with the advancements in renewable energy technology, we can safely turn to Decentralized Renewable Energy to meet all our energy requirements? Energy Minister Piyush Goyal has himself said that solar power is already cheaper than thermal power in India.
Air Pollution has become fatal, it is the biggest stakeholder in the climate change debate with global temperatures seeing record highs in the past few years. The villagers of Kuruvimedu may be living at the forefront, but we are all part of this, whether we like it or not. The energy that powers our homes and our lives, make each one of us responsible., responsible enough to know and be aware that Air Pollution is a pandemic issue, spreading across borders and cultural differences. We must come together as a country to tackle this and ask the government to take strong measures to improve the quality of air we breath.
We must keep campaigning to ensure that we break free from fossil fuels, and secure a healthy, sustainable future.
Join Seetha, Kalpana, Bhaskar, and thousands of other citizens who have joined our Clean Air Nation campaign.
Sign our petition now, so we can see an end to this dependency on coal in our own lifetimes.