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Jharia Master Plan: Coal Ministry Efforts Bring Down Surface Fire identified from 77 to 27 sites

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Implementation of Scientific Measures Reduce fire surface area from 17.32 Sq Km to 1.80 Sq km

Carries out Successful Relocation and Rehabilitation of affected Families;

Achieves Steady progress in Coal Extraction

Coal mines in Jharia Coalfield dates back to 1916 when the first incidence of fire was  reported. Since then, a number of fires have occurred within the overburden debris. Prior to nationalization, these mines were privately owned and operated with a profit-driven approach and mining methods were unscientific with least concern for safety, conservation and the environment. This practice has resulted in severe land degradation, subsidence, coal mine fires and other socio-environmental problems.

After nationalization, Polish team & Indian experts were appointed in 1978 to study the Jharia coal fire predicament. According to the investigations,77fires across 41 collieries of BCCL were identified. In 1996, Govt of India has constituted a High-Power Committee under the chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Coal to review the problems of fire and subsidence in JCF.

To address thesefires and rehabilitate the residents in vicinity two masterplans were formulated in 1999,later revised and updated in 2004 which was based on enhanced fire dealing efforts of BCCL and Ministry of Coal. This comprehensive Master Plan cover two aspects.

Firstly, focus on with fire management, which includes identification of fire areas, selection of technologies to deal with the fires, prioritizing the implementation and assessment of tentative fund requirement and secondly Rehabilitation & Resettlement of the affected people due to fire & subsidence including identification of affected sites, resettlement sites and assessment of tentative fund requirement.

Finally, Jharia Master Plan (JMP) for dealing with Fire, Subsidence and Rehabilitation was approved on 12th August 2009 by Govt. of India with implementation period of 10 years and pre-implementation period of two years with estimated investment of Rs. 7112.11 crores. The Masterplan identified 595 sites that needed to be rehabilitated, covering an area of 25.70 square kilometers.

The Ministry of Coal has been closely monitoring fire incidents and rehabilitation efforts. High-Power Central Committee (HPCC) meetings, chaired by the Secretary, Ministry of Coal, were held to oversee the progress of the Jharia Master Plan. The fire-affected area has significantly reduced from 77 sites (Pre-Nationalization) to 67 sites (As per Jharia Master Plan,2009) covering 17.32 sq. km to 27 sites covering 1.8 sq. km according to surveys conducted in 2021.  So far,approx.

21 High power committee meetings have been taken place. BCCL undertook significant efforts to combat the fires, implementing 27 fire projects that harnessed the best available technology. These efforts included techniques like surface sealing, digging, trenching, infusion of inert gas, and remote sand-bentonite mixture flushing.

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