The meeting in progress in Dhanbad on Wednesday.
Picture by Gautam Dey
Dhanbad, July 27: A meeting to discuss the fate of the oldest degree college of the coal capital, RSP College, which is threatened by a raging underground fire, was convened at the district collectorate here today.
The meeting, which came after a day the Chatra Yuva Sangh observed a daylong bandh to protest against the proposed shifting of the college from the fire zone, was presided over by deputy commissioner Sunil Kumar Burnwal. Various officials, including director general of Directorate General of Mines Safety Satish Puri, Jharia MLA Kunti Singh, mayor Indu Singh and deputy mayor Niraj Singh took part in it.
The stakeholders, after the two-hour long meeting, decided to initiate trench cutting work at the earliest to save the college. According to sources, the trench cutting work, which will be undertaken by BCCL, might begin as early as July 29 to contain the fire, which is inching towards the college at the speed of four metres per month.
Apart from this, close to 200 families residing in the RSP College area of Bokapahari would also be shifted by the Jharia Rehabilitation Development Authority (JRDA) to 132 quarters, which are lying vacant in the Belgarhia colony.
Giving details, superintending engineer of JRDA Narendra Kumar said that two excavators would be pressed into service by BCCL, with an estimated amount of 6,500 cubic metres of soil being dug daily.
“BCCL had asked for a minimum of 20 months to complete the entire trench digging process,” he said.
He added that Burnwal, however, considering the gravity of the situation, has instructed the coal company to complete the work in 10 months.
Earlier, making a presentation on the status of the underground fire, head of CIMFR’s mine ventalation department N. Sahay said that the inferno was near the 10th seam of the Rajapur Colliery of BCCL and was flanking the college from the south.
Sahay further said that CIMFR had been continuously monitoring the underground fire since 2006 by using various methods like digging bore holes, by measuring temperature fluctuations and by testing the gases, which were being emitted.
“If immediate steps are not taken to control the fire it will affect the Jharia-Dhanbad road and the entire Dhanbad town,” Sahay sounded out a warning.
Deputy mayor Niraj Singh, however, blamed the BCCL for not having taken proper steps to contain the blaze and also of misleading the people.
“Had trench cutting been started in 2006, the blaze could have been stopped by now he said,” he said.
Meanwhile, a committee, headed by the sub-divisional manager George Kumar and comprising JRDA rehabilitation and relief in-charge Gopalji, general manager (estate) of BCCL R.C. Chaudhary and technical member of Mada Vinod Verma, among others, was also formed to scout for an alternative site for RSP College.
Deputy development commissioner Ravindra Sharma, sub-divisional officer George Kumar, BCCL general manager (environment) P.P. Gupta, general manger (estate) R.C. Chaudhary, principal of RSP College, Jharia Kiran Singh, among others, were also present at the meeting.