Contrary to its name, there is nothing glittering or golden about Sonbhadra. The dominant colour is black. The leaves are black, so is the ground. Black soot covers classroom floors, textbooks, water left in a bucket overnight and the lungs of infants and adults alike.
About 180km from Varanasi with its new highway, glitzy airport and talk of development, dreams go to die. Welcome to Singhrauli zone, a 150sq km area covering 269 villages, spread over Uttar Pradesh’s Sonbhadra and Madhya Pradesh’s Singhrauli districts.
This is home to the most toxic cocktail of coal dust-laden air, effluent-contaminated water and heavy metal-poisoned soil.
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