Living Near Hell; How Coking Coal is Choking Jharia

26th March | Madra Panchayat, Jharia Block, Dhanbad District, Jharkhand | Bharti Kumari

The operations of Bharat Coking Coal Limited, in Jharia Block, have destroyed most signs of a once normal life. Everything is now shrouded under a sick smoke emitting from the coal fires burning in mines underground and overground. Through her many reports community correspondent Bharti is putting together the pieces of a puzzle which reflects the dangers of such operations on the lives of local communities.

The land in Jairamdih was acquired with land from two other villages, Daultadih, Benidih in the 1990s with a promise that residents would be compensated, rehabilitated and also be given jobs at the mines. It was at this time that BCCL started dumping coal on the land near Jairamdih spreading the coal fire that had till then been contained to the neighbouring area of Madhuvan. The original inhabitants of the area were then forced to move as life got more and more difficult.

Despite this, the rehabilitation process was never completed as the land that was meant to be given to the displaced farmers has been since bought off by people who work at BCCL and other private owners. While around 200 people have gotten jobs, others are yet to receive these.

The Coking coal that comes out of these mines plays a huge role in running the steel industry; BCCL provides about 50% of India's total supply. It is estimated that over half of the coal has been lost to the fires burning underground for at least a 100 years. In the meantime, BCCL and the Indian government have done little to contain these fires and next to nothing for the lives destroyed to feed the steel industry.

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