Jharia Rehabilitation and Development Authority (JRDA)
Jharia Rehabilitation and Development Authority (JRDA)

Jharia coal field: Locals struggle with menace of underground fire, await rehabilitation

By Rizwan Arif | Updated: May 09, 2019 06:43 IST

Jharia (Jharkhand) [India], May 9 (ANI): Almost a century old underground fire burning in the Jharia coal field is adversely affecting locals as they still await rehabilitation.
Not only the underground fire but even the subsidence in the region poses a threat to the lives of the people living around the coal field.
Villagers of Laltenganj, a badly affected area which always remains engulfed in smoke due to the underground fire allege that the government has conducted so many surveys but did nothing substantial to resolve the issue.
To rehabilitate the affected locals, a master plan was initiated long back in 2004 under which the Jharia Rehabilitation and Development Authority (JRDA) was constituted in 2006, however, villagers allege that it is functioning at a 'slow pace'.
"They conduct just surveys and do nothing much. A number of surveys have been done. Even JRDA cards have been issued, but no rehabilitation took place. The situation has become very worse now," said Vikas, an affected villager.
Villagers are also facing difficulty in the process of displacement due to the unavailability of documents required as per government norms.
Initially, persons having a valid identity proof issued in 2004 were displaced for rehabilitation and settlement. Complaining about this a woman said, "A house under JRDA programme was allotted to my husband but my sons did not get it because they did not have a resident identity card of 2004."
As per the data available on JRDA site, a total number of 67 active and 10 extinguished underground fires have been discovered till date.
JRDA, BCCL and district administration conducted a survey in December 2018, to reassess the rehabilitation and settlement project. In the assessment, 595 vulnerable sites were identified including 11 in West Bengal.
Talking on the issue, Deputy Collector and officer in charge of JRDA, Afzer Hasnain said, "Survey was done to figure out how many people are affected. Mainly two categories are there- Legal Title Holders (LTH) and Non-Legal Title Holders (NLTH), the encroacher. As per the plan, a total of 98176 families have to be shifted under rehabilitation and settlement plan, but till now only 2800 families have been rehabilitated."
"There are many problems in mobilizing such a huge population including land acquisition, job promises and other issues. However, work is in progress and we are hoping that it will be completed soon," he further added.
However, some locals from Jharia who were rehabilitated in Belgadia are unhappy as they have to go to Jharia to earn as there are no employment opportunities in Belgadia.
"There are no employment opportunities in Belgadia, we have to go to Jharia to earn. No politician has ever come here except to ask for votes," said Vasant, one of the locals.
JRDA has also constructed a housing complex at Belgadia, seven kilometers away from Jharia, to rehabilitate and settle the shifted population. As per JRDA claim 2800 families are living there at present. (ANI)