Ranchi, Sept. 29: The underground fire in Kujju along the Ranchi-Patna highway (NH-33) has been tamed, well almost, claims Central Coalfields Limited (CCL), but it is still unclear whether the stretch is safe for traffic.
According to a press statement released by the company, the underground temperature in the affected zone, which was as high as 170°C on August 19, came down to 76°C by September 9. Recent temperature records of the area have established the fact.
CCL officials claimed to have spent a whopping Rs 111.32 lakh in taming the fire on the highway.
CCl initiated round-the-clock fire fighting measures by first injecting water mixed with sodium silicate and di-ammonium phosphate through boreholes for cooling down the seat of the blaze. The exercise was carried out under the guidance of scientists of Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research, Dhanbad, till August 21.
About 5,000 litres of sodium silicate and 500kg of di-ammonium phosphate were used. From August 22, liquid nitrogen mixed with foaming agents was injected through boreholes for cooling and blanketing of the fire zone.
But, engineer-in-chief of the state road construction department Vijay Kumar said they were yet to ascertain whether the Kujju stretch on NH-33 was safe for vehicles. We may engage experts to assess the situation, he added.
The CCL management claimed that since 1999, they had lodged several FIRs against illegal mining, which was the cause of the blaze. With the help of the administration, illegal openings were covered time and again. But illegal mining never stopped.
Kumar told The Telegraph that the tendering process to finalise a contractor to build a temporary diversion bypassing the fire zone had started. Construction of the temporary diversion will cost around Rs 9 crore and CCL has already hinted that it would not bear the entire expenditure.
At present, the Charhi-Ghato-Nayamore detour is being used by all kinds of vehicles, but the route is not safe for heavy vehicles.