New Delhi: Areas under fire in Jharia coal mines has reduced drastically from the initial 17.32 sq km to 1.8 sq km in 2021, according to the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) survey, Union Minister for Coal Pralhad Joshi was told at a review meeting held to discuss the way ahead for the Jharia Master Plan. "As a result of fire control measures taken by BCCL (Bharat Coking Coal Ltd), fire area is continuously decreasing and at present as per NRSC surveys in 2021 fire sites has been reduced to 18 sites covering 1.8 sq. km from initial 70 sites covering area of 17.32sq. km. At present, 15 sites are economically viable, wherein work related to digging of fire has been awarded and at 2 sites BCCL board has recommended viability gap funding of Rs 763 crore from revised the Master Plan. At four sites, blanketing will be done to cover the fire sites with a view to extinguish fire," the minister was told.
Joshi chaired a meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Coal in Parliament House on Wednesday. Members of Parliament (MP) participated in the Consultative Committee meeting.
Regarding rehabilitation, there are 595 sites wherein BCCL, a subsidiary of Coal India Ltd (CIL), is responsible for taking actions to shift its staff from BCCL houses. BCCL has undertaken the construction of 15,852 houses and at present about 3,852 families are to be shifted to new houses. BCCL has proposed that 8,000 houses should be utilised by Jharia Rehabilitation & Development Authority (JRDA) for non-BCCL families.
In case of rehabilitation of non-BCCL families, there has been a substantial increase in number of encroachers, as of 2019, against the cut-off date provision of 2004. The Jharkhand state government is responsible for the shifting of legal and non-legal title holders. The JRDA, under the Jharkhand state government, has taken up construction of 18,352 houses out of which 6,352 are completed and the rest will be completed by August 2022.
JRDA has prepared a revised rehabilitation proposal which the state government is examining. In the meantime, the Ministry of Coal has constituted a committee to examine the issue in detail and submit a report on the way ahead.
Due to unscientific mining in pre-nationalisation period, mining areas in Jharia coalfield area have faced problems of fire and subsidence. Now, these areas fall in the leasehold regions of BCCL.
As an outcome of WP(C) No.381/97 filed by late Haradhan Roy, ex-MP, in 1997 in the Supreme Court of India, a master plan for dealing with fire, subsidence and rehabilitation in Jharia was approved on August 12, 2009 by the government with a timeline of 10 years and pre-implementation period of 2 years. The implementation period ended in August this year, at the end of which the government constituted a committee, headed by Coal Secretary Dr Anil Kumar Jain, to oversee the implementation of the Jharia Master Plan.
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