MAC: Mines and Communities

Warnings Ignored In Dhanbad Underground Fire

Published by MAC on 2007-04-19

Warnings Ignored in Dhanbad Underground Fire

Hindustan Times

19th April 2007

They are sitting over a 'volcano' and perhaps awaiting the disaster to strike in a big way.

Despite repeated warnings by the Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS), the Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) has still initiated no steps to vacate the Ena colliery officers Colony beneath which the underground inferno can play havoc any moment.

"The officers and the management of the BCCL should realize the magnitude of the impending danger and initiate immediate steps to ensure the safety of not only their officers but also of their thousands of the coal workers living in endangered areas," the Director General of the DGMS, Mr Man Mohan Sharma said.

"We have identified at least 69 most sensitive places in the command areas of the BCCL and ECL and even apprised the coal companies of the unstable mines in the areas. It is now up to the BCCL to rise to the occasion and ensure serious steps to meet the challenge of the underground inferno," he said.

It is worth mentioning that the DGMS has already sent the list of the most vulnerable pockets under the command areas of the BCCL and the ECL, to the union ministry of labour. The BCCL's Ena officer's colony also figures in the list prominently.

The DGMS, after the disaster at the Nayadih Kusunda basti in which at least six persons were buried alive had again warned against repeat of the tragedy in other areas including at the Ena officers colony. "Where should we go now? It is entirely up to the BCCL top brass to decide on the evacuation and subsequent shifting of the colony to safer areas," the officers residing at the Ena colliery project told the HT.

The BCCL Director (project and Planning), Mr SN Katiyar, however, said, "We are assessing the situation in accordance with the guidelines of the DGMS and evolving measures to counter the situation."

"But, the steps will be taken only after the disaster and on the bodies of the officers and the workers," pointed out a senior functionary of the Coal Mines Officers' Association of India (CMOAI). "Unless the much-awaited Jharia Action Plan gets underway the underground fire and the unstable mines will continue to send alarm signals across the affected pockets," the national president of the CMOAI, Sukhdev Narayan said.

As per the DGMS report at least three coal seams including numbers 10, 11, and 12 are unstable due to underground fire. The areas are most vulnerable to the land subsidence and are posing serious threat to the dwellings, District Board roads and other vital installations in the Ena colliery the report of the DGMS said.

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