A family in Bijapuri village, about 29 km from Jabalpur district headquarters, was in for a shock as a strong pungent smell began to emanate from small cracks in the floor of a room in their house.
Matters went from bad to worse as the effects of the colourless gas became visible on the residents of the house. Vinod Kumar Upadhyay, the owner of the house, said “My daughter fell ill. Now we have stopped using (the room).”
All family members experienced eye irritation and his daughter suffered from vomiting and uneasiness after sleeping in the room. The house was recently built after an existing structure there was demolished.
After being plagued by the strong odour over the last few days, the family tracked its source to the small cracks in the floor of the room.
“The smell is somewhat like petrol. Initially we thought the odour was coming from the petrol tank of bikes parked inside the house, particularly at night, but we were surprised when we spotted the cracks in the floor of the room,” he said.
This is not the first time gases, possibly trapped deep within the ground, have found their way to the surface. According to retired professor and expert geologist Dr Vijay Kumar Khanna, in 2011, methane gas oozed out from a spot in the Naga Hills at a small distance from the village.
“Bijapuri village falls on land over the South Narmada Fault and the area is a zone of weakness, making it easy for the gases to come out from beneath the soil surface,” Khanna said, adding that it was yet unclear which gas was the causing trouble for the family.