The Telegraph
Saturday , December 15 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Soon, mine mounds may host homes
- JSPL-Raipur ropes in Dhanbad institute to conduct research, suggest ways to build residential structures

Mounds of mine waste, which are prone to hazards like frequent fire, soil degradation, acid rain and air pollution, cannot only be tackled but also effectively used to build permanent residential structures.

Now, a group of scientists with Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research (CIMFR) is embarking on a project to figure out a way to achieve this, holding out hope for Dhanbad residents looking for alternative housing to escape the ill-effects of an underground fire.

The Dhanbad-based premier research institute has teamed up with Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) at Raipur, Chhattisgarh, to conduct research on how to build permanent residential structures in such areas, also defined as “mine overburden” — waste accumulated above the area of “economic or scientific interest”. JSPL, Raipur, has coughed up around Rs 12 lakh for the project that will offer a solution to its own problem of mine overburden.

Titled “Scientific investigation and advice for designing of permanent residential structures on overburden coal dump and avoiding the occurrence of fire,” the research project will be completed by CIMFR scientists, led by principal scientist of mine fire department Durga Dutt Tripathi, in six to seven months.

Tripathi said that JSPL wanted to build a residential colony on the mine dump. “We will conduct thermal scanning of the overburden at Raipur during the first stage of our ground research, which will begin from December 22. This process will help us detect fire, if any. Scanning must be conducted in darkness as the infrared thermal equipment will not give good results in sunlight,” he explained.

After thermal scanning, an analysis of samples collected from the dump would be done to study the presence of carbonaceous materials. Permeability of soil would be studied in the third stage as soil, which was low on this quality, got eroded during rain, thus exposing carbonaceous materials.

“After all the three stages, we will suggest preventive measures like treatment of vulnerable sites with chemicals to prevent fire. The suggestions will help the company build permanent residential structures on the mine dump,” Tripathi said.

Another scientist added the findings would help tackle the problem in Dhanbad, where a large number of mine dumps existed across BCCL collieries. “The land problem plaguing the Jharia rehabilitation project can also be addressed as residential colonies for the displaced can then be built on mine dumps,” he suggested.

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