Life Of People In Jharia

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Jharia and its fire underground
Jharia and its fire underground

About The Lives Of People In The Coalfields Of Jharia

Jharia is a city that is known for its coal fields which have been mined from 1894, during the time of the British rule. Such is the need of coal from this particular city that mining was done extensively without any attention given to the air and water pollution that it caused.

The first underground fire that happened was in 1916 and over the coming decades, about 17.32 square kilometers of land is under the rage of continuous fires. However due to efforts to cut down on their devastation, the fire raging has been curbed to 2.18 square kilometers.

Life Of People In Jharia Coalfields

Why is Jharia so important for coal mining when there are other coal fields available? The reason lies behind the quality of coal available in these mines which are the high grade ones needed to make steel. Hence the need for coal mined here is greater than in other places which remove the possibility of reduced mining and elimination of fires.

However, along with this need has plunged the life of people in the city of Jharia. For more than a century now, they are witnessing how the underground fire has raged through the city and everyday experience its negative effects.

Village homes constructed here are above the fires and it is not uncommon to see that the ground getting hot, cracking and suddenly tearing apart, causing fire and noxious gases to come into the home.

Jharia Coal Mine and People’s Life

Walls can be seen with cracks and are in a highly deteriorated state wherein they are crumbling heavily. Life expectancy of people living here has been reduced by ten years. The total number of families affected by fires is about 100,000 and they need to be relocated right away.

People who have been living in Jharia for the past century have endured with the many health problems arising from the pollution caused by underground fires.

Their daily food intake, the air they breathe and also their everyday life is charred with the smoke of fires raging around them. Many inhabitants who owned lands and homes here have had to abandon them, without any hope of salvaging on their ownership due to the heavy smoke and its ensuring health problems.

Diseases Due to coal mining, gas and Pollution

You can see so mny building structures falling apart and many homes heavily covered in soot and without their owners. People involved in coal mining develop black lung disease which can lead to lung cancer.

Sulphur, nitrogen and carbon oxides that get into the air pollute it and cause difficult respiratory diseases such as asthma and bronchitis.  Various gastrointestinal problems, hepatitis and other similar diseases affect people when they take in polluted water,

One of the key areas of concern is the rehabilitation of fire affected families into new homes, for which the Jharia Rehabilitation and Development Authority (JRDA) has an annual funding of 5 billion rupees but cannot put it into constructive use easily as they are unable to find proper lands for home construction.

A key area of concern is that most families living here are old fashioned and hence have extended living in many rooms inside a large property. So an appropriate plan has to be implemented to relocate them together amidst a scenario in which the properties that can be constructed today are just two bedroom ones for rehabilitation. 

Related Post:

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Jharia Master Plan – Dealing With Fire, Subsidence & Rehabilitation