The Bokaro police have unearthed illegal coal mines in a forest in rebel-hit area of the district and seized more than 600 tonne of coal and booked seven people , an official said on Thursday.
During raids conducted at Dhawaiyya and Simrabeda villages under Mahuatand police station of the district on Wednesday, police found that villagers dug up 150 tunnels along the Damodar River to illegally extract coal, said Bermo sub divisional police officer Neeraj Kumar.
The raids were conducted after a long gap as police have to make special plan to raid rebel-hit area, he said, adding that police arrested one person and recovered three motorcycles used to transport coal from the mines and destroyed dozens of bicycles used for carrying coal, on the spot.
“Villagers are taking advantage of the rebel threat in the area to mine coal,” he said.
“The entire population of the villages is engaged in the illegal activity and they resist us whenever we go there for raids. Women and children start pelting stones at us.”
Kumar further said that police have managed to bring back 100 tonnes of coal and the remaining coal will be put back into the dug up tunnels and the entry points have been closed with stones and mud.
Impoverished villagers do not take up jobs under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act (MNREGA) schemes, instead they prefer to extract coal and sell it in different parts of the state, including Ramgarh and Ranchi, about 70 km away, said a local journalist, who wished not to be named.
“When the villagers can earn Rs 500 per day by selling coal why should they take part in the MNREGA schemes,” he said.
Police have conducted numerous raids in the area in the past by blocking the entry points of the mines. “The entire area has a large coal reserve and villagers dig up new tunnels we leave the area,” said Mahutand police station chief.
Police said that illegal mining was going in the region on for the past 15 years.
People of Simrabeda and surrounding areas have not given possession of their land to the Central Coalfields Limited for mining despite a government order, said Kumar. “They think that they can earn a large amount of money by illegally extracting coal from their land,” he said.