Curtains for rail operations in Jharia coal belt from June 15 | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Curtains for rail operations in Jharia coal belt from June 15

india Updated: Jun 12, 2017 22:54 IST
Srinand Jha
Family members of two persons who were trapped in an underground fire after land caved-in a coal mine area at Jharia Sindri main road, mourn in Dhanbad.

Family members of two persons who were trapped in an underground fire after land caved-in a coal mine area at Jharia Sindri main road, mourn in Dhanbad.(PTI Photo)

The raging fire in India’s biggest coalfields in Jharkhand’s Jharia district has taken its toll, with the Railways having decided to suspend movement of freight and passenger operations on the 41-km-long Chanderpura-Dhanbad stretch from Thursday.

Fire has continued to spread at 80 underground locations in the area since 1916, damaging the surface below the train tracks. In 2007, operations in Jharia had to be discontinued for similar reasons. The line has not been restored so far.

At several locations on the stretch, including the Bansjora station and the Katrasgarh-Sonardih section, the underground fire is reported to have crossed rail tracks.

Annually, train operations have accounted for the movement of 12 million tons of freight and 10 million passengers in the Chanderpura-Dhanbad section. “The Railways are estimated to suffer an annual loss of ₹1,250 crore on account of the decision,” railway board member (traffic) Mohd Jamshed said.

“The decision to discontinue service on the route has been taken on the advice of the coal ministry,” an official release said.

An estimated 50% of the coal supply in states including Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal was sourced from the Dhanbad area in past years. “The Railways are taking steps to ensure that coal supply to the power units in these states is not adversely affected. Diversions and alternative routes will be finalised soon,”an official said.

In a circular issued on
Monday, the Railways announced the cancellation of 13 pairs of mail and express trains and six passenger trains. Seven pairs of trains, including Dhanbad-Gomoh-Chandrapura Shatabdi Express, will run on a diverted route.

Official assessments are that train punctuality in India’s eastern sector in particular will get adversely impacted.

The move follows recommendations made in recent reports by the director general of mining safety and other bodies, including the Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research (CIMFR) and the Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDI).