People s lives in danger as fire intensifies in Jharkhand coal mine

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Ranchi, Feb 18

 A fire has reportedly intensified in a closed underground coal mine in Jharkhand's Karkata village situated around the north Karanpura area of the Central Coalfields Limited's Karanpura Dewalkhand Hesalong (KDH) project.

It is feared that if effective measures are not taken immediately to control the fire, then three settlements in Karkata, Bishrampur and Khilan Dhoura areas located near the mine will directly impact nearly 2,000 people.

Several incidents of natural disasters have occurred in Karkata village in the past but due to an alleged fire in the coal mine it has further increased the risk of subsidence.

Meanwhile, a team led by Sanjay Kumar, General Manager, CCL, KDH Project, inspected the the mine on Thursday.

A fire suddenly broke out in this mine on Wednesday afternoon. The high flames along with fumes of the smoke rising from the mine slowly spread to residential colonies of Karkata, Bishrampur and adjoining areas as well.

Ratia Ganjhu, a member of the Ranchi Zilla Parishad, who lives in a settlement near the mine, says that smoke used to emanate from the closed underground mine since several months.

He says that even if the source of the fire is closed immediately, the underground fire will not be completely extinguished. The only solution is that the people of these three settlements must be settled elsewhere at the earliest by paying them financial compensation. The situation is so grave that people are not able to sleep peacefully at night due to fear of the accident.

This coal mine located at KDH was earlier run by an outsourcing company. Later, this mine was closed down nearly two years ago due to non-availability of land for mining expansion.

Following the shutting of this coal mine, many sources of illegal mining were opened here. Last week, the security department of CCL and the police had closed several sources of illegal mining by destroying them. At the very same sites, fire broke out.

According to the locals living near the mine, after the outsourcing company halted work, the mines were left in the same condition while it should have been closed by bulldozing them in a safe manner.

After the closure of the mine, the process of illegal mining was rampant here. The CCL management took action several times to stop illegal mining but in due course dozens of tunnels were made for coal mining.

Such tunnels have often been the cause of several accidents. Last year, two people had died in a similar incident of tunnel collapse.

It is being told that due to leakage of methane gas inside the mine, the fire is continuously intensifying.

Sanjay Kumar, General Manager of CCL KDH area, says that the fire was caused by illegal mining in the closed underground mine. Discussions are underway on how to control the fire. Efforts will be made to close the sources of fire through bulldozing them.


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