MAC: Mines and Communities

No exhaustive coal-mining possible: coal body

Published by MAC on 2007-08-17

No exhaustive coal-mining possible: coal body

Staff Correspondent, NewAge

17th August 2007

The advisory committee, formed to finalise the draft coal policy, on Thursday decided to include a provision in the policy that the country would not go for 'vigorous' coal mining because of the limited amount of coal, numerous difficulties in extracting it and the adverse effects on the environment.

The committee, headed by former vice-chancellor of the BUET, Abdul Matin Patwari, also decided that the committee members would visit Barapukuria, Phulbari and Khalaspur coal-fields next Friday.

A geology professor of Dhaka University, Badrul Imam, told the committee at a meeting that the amount of coal in the country was very limited and exclusively situated in two northern districts, Dinajpur and Rangpur.

'If you consider our entire coal reserve, which is around 2,500 million tonnes, with the Raniganj coal field in West Bengal that has a reserve over 22,000 million tonnes, you can surely see how limited our coal reserve is,' he said at the meeting of the committee.

He said that country would face difficulties in both underground and open-pit mining in Dinajpur and Rangpur because of presence of a layer of water over the layer of coal.

He said, with regard to open-pit mining, that this method would be difficult and have adverse effects because of the tremendous land shortage and the extreme density of population.

'One can imagine what will happen by 10 to 15 years if two or three open-pit mines are operated in Dinajpur and Rangpur districts. The population of the districts will increase but not the land,' said professor Imam.

The committee endorsed his suggestion that a paragraph would be included in the introduction of the policy that would say that country would not be able to go for thorough or exhaustive coal mining because of the limited resources, shortage of land and difficulties in extraction.

Professor Imam, rebutting criticism of underground mining at Barapukuria coal-field, said that the current miserable state of the field was not a fault of the underground mining method -- rather bureaucratic tangles were responsible for the sorry state of the field.

'After the Chinese company developed the field, coal extraction was not started for six months because of bureaucratic tangles. It is common knowledge that oxygen will enter a mine if it remains idle and thus combustion will occur,' he said.

One of the two parts of Barapukuria was closed last year because of emission of carbon monoxide, resulting in the slump in coal production. A British mining engineer died of carbon monoxide poisoning this year.

Professor Imam also blamed the Chinese company for its dilly-dallying approach to extraction of coal from the field.

Professor Nurul Islam of BUET stressed the need for changes in environmental laws relating to coal-mining as he felt the existing laws were not sufficient to protect the ecology.

The committee will scrutinise the opinions of different sections of people and professionals on the coal policy, and include suggestions that it considers appropriate in the policy in its next meeting.

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