In Korba, coal is everywhere—even in the air.
We arrived in the city by train in mid-September, which is typically close to the end of the monsoon season in this part of the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. But the deluge hadn’t abated yet. Instead, we were warned that rainfall had picked up in recent weeks.
Heavy rain should have precipitated the pollution in the air—the tiny particles of dust, coal, and organic matter created by extracting coal from open-to-air mines or produced when coal is burned in inefficient power plants. But the sulfurous, mildly irritating smell was inescapable.