regular-article-logo Friday, 29 September 2023

Exploratory drilling in Deocha over

Sources said that the Birbhum district administration had informed about the development to Nabanna

Snehamoy Chakraborty Calcutta Published 09.01.23, 05:22 AM
Drilling on at a village in Deocha-Pachami coal mine last week.

Drilling on at a village in Deocha-Pachami coal mine last week. Sourced by The Telegraph

The Bengal government on Sunday completed its exploratory drilling exercise comprising 77 points across the proposed Deocha-Pachami coal mine project in Birbhum, the development prompting senior officials to hope mining would start by January 2024.

Sources said that the Birbhum district administration had informed about the development to Nabanna, ostensibly to allay government apprehensions regarding vocal opposition from some residents against the coal mine project.


“Now that the drilling is over, it paves the way for us to know where exactly drilling can and will be done,” said a project source.

“The drilling process is over at all points. Now we can complete the task with the cooperation of local people. The next round of work will start soon,” said Birbhum district magistrate Bidhan Ray.

Sourced by The Telegraph

Sources said that the state government wanted to start mining at the project well before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, with the ruling establishment reportedly planning to showcase it as a successful endeavour spearheaded by the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamul government.

“At various administrative and public meetings, chief minister Mamata Banerjee always tabled the coal mine project claiming it would create jobs and meet the rising demand for coal in Bengal as well as the country,” said a source, explaining Trinamul’s commitment to the project.

The proposed coal mine spread over 12.31sqkm or 3,400 acres is divided into two phases — Dewanganj-Harinsingha and Deocha-Pachami. The government will reportedly start mining from Dewanganj-Harinsingha coal block, where drilling at all 14 points was completed earlier. The administration on Sunday finished exploratory drilling at all 63 points in the Deocha-Pachami block.

“It was not an easy task as there was possibility of resistance at multiple points. We started the drilling process on July 14 and it came to an end after around six months. In some places, we had to face odd situations but it was managed by dialogue with villagers on several occasions,” said an official.

Some officials said the prime challenge for the government lay in the form of relocating and rehabilitating local families before mining. There are 4,000 families, including those of tribal communities in several villages in the project areas.

“We have already received a nod from half of the affected families whose land is required for the project. The compensation package is comprehensive, but the challenge is whether it will be easier to relocate them all to the proposed rehabilitation colony,” said an official, pointing out that many villagers were against the coal mine.

Sources said the government planned to explore open-cast mining at the points where the coal is reserved in comparatively low-lying layers.

“At a few points, we got coal layers within 160-800 metres beneath the basalt layer. We are not waiting for the geological report to know where we have options for open-cast and where we have to go underground,” said an official.

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