Union Coal Minister orders probe into Talcher land subsidence incidents

Bhubaneswar, Dec 7: Union Coal Minister Piyush Goyal Friday ordered a probe into the incidents of land subsidence reported from two houses in Talcher town in Odisha.

          Angry residents of Talcher in Odisha’s Angul district on Thursday had observed a 12-hour bandh over the issue.

          Goyal ordered a fact finding inquiry by a team of experts following a request from Union Petroleum and Natural Gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

          In a letter, Pradhan urged Goyal to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident in the coal mining area of Talcher town to dispel the doubts of the people.

          A detailed investigation would be jointly conducted by a team of experts from Director General Mines Safety (DGMS), Central Mine Planning & Design Institute Limited (CMPDIL) and Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL), official sources said.

          Sources said that a portion of land measuring about 5 feet in length and 6 feet in width suddenly caved in inside the house of one Shanti Bai and later stretched to her neighbours house on Wednesday.

          People from the nearby areas gathered to the spot as the news spread. The locals blamed the management of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) for the incident and alleged that improper filling of sand in empty spaces of the coal mines was the reason behind the incidents.

          The locals also alleged that the MCL had not filled the now defunct Champapasi underground coal mine with sand due to which the crater had developed.

          Notably, a statement from MCL yesterday had said there was no link between subsidence and coal mining operation.

“There is no visible link between the incidence of subsidence in a  house at Talcher above the Duelbera Under Ground Mines of Talcher where mining was being done using the Board & Pillar method.

Technically, subsidence on surface under the Board & Pillar method cannot take place where the mines are being worked at 50 meters or more below the surface, it said.

However, on verification and correlating with the Underground Mine Plan it was found that there is a solid ground cover of 70 meter thickness and the mine is standing on coal pillars of the dimensions prescribed by DGMS under the Coal Mine Regulation 1957.

The statement said, there is no scope of subsidence due to sufficient support of the roof of the mine working by the solid coal pillars and hard cover of more than 70 meter.

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