Hazaribag/Ranchi: The management of NTPC’s Pakri-Barwadih coal project in Hazaribag’s Barkagaon block on Wednesday began transporting their mined coal to the nearest railway siding under heavy police protection after a section of their coal dump caught fire on October 2 after being exposed to heat for more than 36 days.
Mining of coal and its transportation from the project has been stalled since September 1 as residents of the villages displaced and affected by the project’s land acquisition have been protesting for higher compensation, led by Barkagaon MLA Amba Prasad.
After the fire was detected by NTPC authorities on October 2, district administration intervened, Hazaribag DC Aditya Kumar Anand said. “Of the eight coal pits where the mined coal is stored before transportation, three caught fire as they were exposed to surface heat because they were lying in the open for a month as the agitation had stopped coal transportation entirely,” Anand added.
Alongside Hazaribag SP Karthik S, his counterparts from Koderma, Chatra and Ramgarh arrived at the project site around 7am on Wednesday with over 1,000 policemen to ensure that the 8,500-odd displaced people (raiyyats), who come from 17 panchayats, do not obstruct the transportation. The SPs from the nearby districts were pressed into action by DIG (North Chotanagpur) A V Homkar to avoid a flare-up similar to the one that happened in 2016, where police firing had killed four demonstrators.
“We had no other alternative as the fire, which had started in one of the coal pits, could potentially become disastrous for the locality, the project and the underground coal reserves,” DC Anand said.
As per estimates of NTPC, around 5.5 lakh metric ton of coal worth Rs 55 crore was lying in open pits since September 1 as locals blocked the transportation of mineral to its nearest
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