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Rehabilitation of families in Jharia coalfield region to pick up pace

SC directs its amicus curiae to hold a meeting with stakeholders before February 25 and draw up an implementation plan

Praduman Choubey Dhanbad Published 21.02.20, 07:49 PM
Flames of underground fire emanate from the cracks after rains in Jharia

Flames of underground fire emanate from the cracks after rains in Jharia File picture

The rehabilitation of more than 1 lakh families living in the 595 underground fire-hit sites in Jharia coalfield region is set to gain pace with the Supreme Court directing its amicus curiae Gaurav Agarwal to hold a meeting with the stakeholders before February 25 and draw up an implementation plan.

Agarwal has been asked to meet the representatives of the coal ministry committee on fire, subsidence and rehabilitation besides officials of the state government and coal companies for finalising the plan to shift people.


While hearing the writ petition filed by former Asansol MP late Haradhan Roy, the apex court had last week instructed Agarwal to prepare the fresh plan within two weeks after holding the meeting.

Roy had filed a writ petition in 1997 seeking relief for the residents of fire-hit areas of Jharia and Raniganj on the basis of which the the Jharia Master Plan was prepared in 1999.

During its review of the Jharia Master Plan, the apex court had appointed Agarwal as amicus curiae to take stock of the situation on ground and submit a report.

Agarwal submitted a report after visiting Jharia and Raniganj in July last year during which he interacted with the officers of Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL) and Eastern Coalfield Ltd along with the residents.

In his report, Agarwal said out of the 36,000 apartments that were supposed to be constructed for the displaced, only 4,332 had been built and allotted to 3,114 families till July 2019. Another 8,000 apartments were expected to be completed before March 2021.

Dhanbad deputy commissioner Amit Kumar, who is also the ex-officio managing director of Jharia Rehabilitation and Development Authority (JRDA) said: “Though I am away from Dhanbad at the moment, I am well aware of the recent developments in the case and will take action in this regard soon after my return.”

The Union coal ministry is also in the process of drawing up a revised plan for Jharia as the earlier estimate of rehabilitating 54,159 families has increased to around 1 lakh after the completion of the demographic survey of the fire-hit sites.

Out of the 1 lakh families, around 72,000 are illegal encroachers while 28,000 are legal title holders of land and houses.

The coal ministry is trying to rehabilitate all 1 lakh families by involving Dhanbad Municipal Corporation that could accommodate some families under the Pradhan Mantri Sahri Awas Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awas Yojana.

The JRDA, led by Dhanbad DC Amit Kumar, had held a stakeholders’ meeting in Jharia on January 14 to decide the compensation package for legal title holders.

Murari Sharma, acting president of Jharia Coalfield Bachao Samiti, said: “It is high time for the residents of Jharia to raise their voices regarding their justified demand for compensation as the Supreme Court is monitoring the case. We will draw up an action plan soon.”

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