Fire in closed Jharkhand mine poses threat to 400 families

September 9th, 2008 - 3:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Ranchi, Sep 9 (IANS) A fire raging in a closed mine of the Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) in Dhanbad district of Jharkhand is threatening to damage the homes of the nearly 400 families that live nearby as well as the Dhanbad-Bokaro national highway.The fire erupted Sunday night in seam number 15 of Godhar colliery of BCCL, about 240 km from here. Smoke continued to come up from the mine Tuesday as officials struggled to put out the flames.

“It may take a week to extinguish the fire. We are using sand and water to douse the flames. We are trying to ascertain the radius of the fire so that it can be stopped from spreading,” a BCCL official told IANS.

Locals, who were worried that their houses would be destroyed if the fire spread further, claimed the negligence of BCCL officials had caused the problem.

They said coke extracted from mines nearby had caught fire and was dumped in the Godhar colliery. The fire soon engulfed the entire mine, which is just 300 metres away from the Dhanbad-Bokaro national highway.

“It is criminal negligence on the part of the coal company authorities. The coke should not have been dumped there. Stern action should be taken against officials involved in the act,” said Pinaki Roy, a social activist who is also fighting against the displacement of people from areas where fires are raging in coal mines.

The Godhra mine is 30 km away from the Jharia coal field where underground mine fires have been raging for years.

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