Fire spreads to adjoining mines in Asansol

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Asansol, Jan 3 (UNI) The fire that raged through the eight illegal mines of Shatgram under Jamuria police station since Monday, is gaining intensity, affecting 30,000 people of nearby villages.

The villagers yesterday met the Deputy Director General of Mine Safety Satish Puri and urged him to help bring the fire under control and stop illegal mining in the region.

Mr Puri said to bring the fire under control, air passage into the mines must be stopped, since oxygen in the air is coming in direct contact with the methane inside the mines and reacting with the coal underneath, helping the fire ablaze and spreading to adjoining mines.

Mr Puri said at present, five such mines were still ablaze. These mines are located only 300 metre away from ONGC's Haldia-Barauni Gas pipeline and about one km from the NH 2. ''I have already informed the Eastern Coalfields Limited(ECL) authorities and have asked them to take charge of the situation as soon as possible,'' he added.

Three villages are located 400 metre away from these pipelines, which have the possibility of a subsidence, thereby causing heavy casualty, informed Mr Puri, while taking stock of the situation here.

Reportedly, illegal mining and group clash between coal mafia has long been a problem here and the villagers wanted it to end at the earliest.

ECL Chairman and Managing Director Sarojit Chakraborty have assured, ''We are doing our job according to the directions of the DG of Mine Safety and are trying our level best to stop illegal mining in the region.'' UNI XC LL BDP HS1639

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