Ranchi/Dhanbad/Jharia: While the entire world is trying to cop up with global warming, there is a town in India which is constantly ‘on fire’. Being an exclusive storehouse of prime coke coal in India, Jharia coalfield consists of 23 large underground and nine large open cast mines.

While the mining activities in these coalfields started in 1894, it intensified in 1925. The first coal-mine fire in Jharia coalfield was detected back in 1916. More than 70 mine fires are reported from this region at present. The fire in the Jharia coalfield has mainly been due to unscientific mining and extraction of coal in the past.

Many incidents of fire emerging on the ground and earth caving in have been reported from the area over the years. It is becoming dangerous for the locals living in Jharia over the 8.9 kilometre stretch that is under the effect of the fire.

In 2008, around ten thousand people in Raniganj were affected by the fire. Many buildings in Jharia have developed cracks when the earth caves in due to the fire. Over 27 million tonne coal has been destroyed in the fire since 1916.

Many scientists have been working over the years to douse the fire but have not been successful. The measures for controlling coal mine fires include bull dozing, leveling and covering with soil to prevent the entry of oxygen. Fire fighting in this area requires relocation of a large population, which poses to be a bigger problem than the actual fire fighting operations.

Coal fires have occurred in nearly all parts of the world like India, the US, Indonesia, South Africa, Australia, China, Germany and many other countries. However, the nature and magnitude of the problem differs from country to country. The main cause of natural coal fires are lightening, forest fires, bush fires, etc. Among human causes are accidents, negligent acts, domestic fires, lighting fires in abandoned underground mines for heating or distilling alcohol etc.

Courtesy: Daily bhaskar.com