A 10-metre-long crack surfaced early on Thursday at the house of Abhishek Singh, 25, in the underground-fire-hit Barari Colony at Lodna area of the BCCL, some 18km from Dhanbad city.
Smoke and toxic gases escaped through the crack in the drawing room and spread in the colony, causing panic among the 250-plus residents there and prompting BCCL officials to paste notices asking people to vacate the place immediately, citing dangers of subsidence. The BCCL did not make any alternative stay arrangements.
Akhilesh Singh, the representative of jailed Jharia MLA Sanjeev Singh, who visited Abhishek’s house, said he would talk with the BCCL and Jharia Rehabilitation and Development Authority on rehabilitation.
Abhishek, who owns a small mobile phone handset shop, said he was shocked at the sudden turn of events. “We are living here since three generations. My grandfather late Hari Krishna Singh was a BCCL employee and had got quarters here. The area was safe earlier, it gradually turned into a fire-hit zone as the underground fire spread,” he said.
He said they were all fast asleep when around 5am, they woke up feeling suffocated. “We opened our eyes to see smoke filling our house. Smoke kept coming from the huge crack in our drawing room and started spreading to the entire colony,” Singh said, adding all members of his family including parents, wife and small son, and two younger brothers, were all scared.
“The worst part is that BCCL officials stuck notices instructing us to vacate the colony instead of giving us any alternative shelter. Not only my house, but walls of two adjoining houses of Dilip Sao and Md Nissar also developed smaller cracks two days ago. We are all living in fear and have no place to go,” Abhishek said.
Gita Devi, wife of Dilip Sao who works as a street vendor at Burnpur, Bengal, said they were terrified. “We are living here since two or three generations but want to leave the area. We want the Jharia Rehabilitation and Development Authority to rehabilitate us.”
Rehabilitation and resettlement in-charge of JRDA K.B. Kachhap said they were not aware of the cracks at Barari Colony.
“All new allotments of quarters of people in fire zones are suspended due to the model code of conduct for Assembly elections. We will look into Barari Colony. Work will resume after poll results are declared on December 23,” Kachchap said.