Madhya Pradesh ‘lava’ flow mystery unsolved

April 16th, 2008 - 5:31 pm ICT by admin  

Bhopal, April 16 (IANS) Mystery shrouds the ground emissions that occurred Tuesday in an industrial area in Sendhwa block of Madhya Pradesh’s Badwani district. While the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activists contend that it was the result of increased seismic activity following construction of large dams, district officials and geologists feel that nothing could be said with certainty till a chemical examination of the fluid that issued from the ground was completed.

Sendhwa falls under the catchment area of the Narmada River on which Sardar Sarovar Dam Project (SSP) is constructed.

Some factory workers in the industrial area heard an explosion Tuesday afternoon on a vacant plot and saw a gusher rising in the air. Thinking that a transformer had exploded, some people went to the spot where they saw a one-and-a-half feet wide and eight-inch deep crater with reddish lava gushing out of it.

The amber lava continued to ooze for over an hour before cooling down. The molten fluid reportedly heated up the vicinity creating panic among the factory owners.

Some of the eyewitnesses said that at one point the lava gushed up to a height of five to six feet and burned the grass about 50 feet away. The flow stopped at around 4 p.m. after about two to five litres of the lava had oozed out.

The spot is next to an electric pole carrying an 11 KV power line and some MPEB experts say that such a phenomenon was possible due to high voltage current running overhead.

The geology departments in Bhopal and Indore universities have been informed about the incident and “nothing can be said with certainty till the experts examine the phenomenon”, Collector S.K. Pal told IANS on phone.

“The Narmada valley has been a geological fault zone and the Sardar Sarovar dam is situated in the ‘triple junction’ area of fault lines - one coming from Aravalli ranges and other from the Western Ghats, apart from the Narmada Fault zone. The Dam has increased the seismic activity in the area”, said NBA activist Ashish.

“There have been instances of tremors in Khandwa region. The earthquake in Jabalpur in May 1997, which killed at least 50 people besides damaging property, was a stern warning,” he said adding that strange noises like bomb explosions were heard about six months ago at Kochda village of Dharampuri tehsil in Dhar district also. This area too got submerged by the SSP reservoir.

“The Narmada fault zone is one of the fairly active zones of central India and underground movements keep taking place in the region. Since Sendhwa falls in the active Narmada zone and is based in the Deccan Trap area, such eruptions due to underground activity are not uncommon”, opines H.U. Usmani, professor of geology in MVM College, Bhopal.

But Janardan Negi, former director general of Madhya Pradesh Council of Science and Technology (MAPCOST) and a renowned geologist who has several seismological research works to his credit, said chemical examination of the fluid which has emanated alone could tell what exactly happened.

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