July 11, 2008
Jharia Coalfield Fires
By Law Kumar Mishra
DHANBAD: Jharia Development and Rehabilitation Authority on Tuesday decided to set up eight new townships between Dhanbad in Jharkhand and Raniganj in West Bengal to house more than one lakh families to be displaced by underground fires raging for several decades in coalfield areas.The decision was taken at Dhanbad after a meeting between representatives of Coal India Limited, Bharat Coking Coal Limited, Eastern Coalfield Limited, Central Mining Project and Development Institute, Ranchi and Central Mining Research Institute, Dhanbad under the chairmanship of authority president Siyaram Prasad Sinha.
The new colonies will be developed by public sector companies on the land provided by Jharkhand and West Bengal governments.
The existing colonies would be relocated to five satellite townships in non-coal bearing areas in Jharia. The colonies will have three-storeyed buildings with basic facilities. Each township will also have primary schools, high schools, banks, post-offices, community centres, shopping complexes, hospitals, playgrounds, children parks, sewage disposal network and water supply.
Bharat Coking Coal Ltd has identified 595 sites as "subsidence prone, unstable and uncontrollable" requiring shifting of about one lakh houses to new townships. Sources said over 100 families of employees attached to Kusunda project have been told to shift to Belguriya, 10 km from Jharia, where 3,300 flats are nearing completion.
The authority will also conduct a survey for relocation and shifting of four railway lines from the underground fire zone to non-coal bearing areas. The Dhanbad-Jharia railway line has already been abandoned. The four tracks to be uprooted are Dhanbad- Chandrapura, Pathardih-Gonudih, Pathardih-Aadra and Gomoh-Bhaga sections. The Jharkhand government has approved Rs 6,600 crore for rehabilitation.
In Raniganj, the West Bengal government has identified seven areas where new colonies would be set up at
an estimated cost of Rs 2,257 crore in approximately 1,000 hectares. This job was handed over to the Asansol and Durgapur development authorities for rehabilitating those ousted by underground fires in the coalfield areas.
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