Underground mine fire now threatens Jharkhand rail lines

August 28th, 2009 - 3:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Ranchi, Aug 28 (IANS) An underground mine fire that has been raging for nearly six months in Jharkhand now poses a threat to railway tracks after it led to the closure of the Ranchi-Patna National Highway earlier this month, officials said.
The mine fire spotted at four to five places near the Kalyani project of Central Coalfield Limited (CCL) at Bermo in Bokaro district has posed a threat to both the Bermo-Chandrapura-Dhanbad highway and the Gomoh-Barkakhana railway route.

The railway track is around 40 feet away from the fire and the highway is around 10 feet away. The fire is spread out in a two-kilometre area.

Earlier, the National Highway-33, which connects Ranchi and Patna via Hazaribagh and Koderma, was closed Aug 7 because of the underground mine fire that touched the road.

The district administration has written several letters to CCL to contain the fire before it affects the rail route.

While smoke was spotted in the area some six months back, a CCL team visited the region in Bermo only earlier this week.

“We have launched an operation to douse the mine fire. The cause of the fire is illegal mining. We have contained the fire in some areas and efforts are on to contain it in other areas also,” CCL spokesman M.N. Jha told IANS.

Meanwhile, another underground mine fire now poses a threat to railway tracks at Basjora, a railway halt station in Dhanbad district. It falls between Dhanbad and Katras railway route used daily by the Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express trains.

The Dhanbad district administration has written a letter to Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL) to take suitable measures to douse the flames, officials said. BCCL authorities say appropriate measures are being taken to control the mine fire.

However, railway authorities said the Dhanbad and Katras railway route was not in danger as of now.

“We have the safety certificate of Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS) and chief mining advisor of the railways. In future, if we are alerted about any danger then we will not hesitate to shift the railway track,” said Amrendra Das, spokesman of the Dhanbad railway division.

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