An underground blaze was reported today along the Ranchi-Patna highway (NH-33) at Kujju in Ramgarh, where coal mine fires have been raging for some time now, triggering fresh fears of land subsidence.
The source of the fire is an abandoned mine of the Central Coalfields Limited (CCL) near Loha Gate, barely 30m from the highway. Columns of flames, some as high as 300ft, were seen from a distance.
According to local residents, a portion at the spot has subsided, resulting in craters. "Thick, black smoke has covered the stretch making it difficult for us to commute as we cannot see anything. In the evening, the situation becomes more dangerous. Accidents are just waiting to happen as there are steep curves," complained a local resident, Rakesh Shankar.
A team of CCL officials visited the spot and took stock of the situation. Conceding that it was impossible to douse the flames and thus save the highway, the officials said that a diversion was the only solution.
Last week, the state road construction department had decided to construct a 765m diversion — between Lakdi Gate and Singh Hotel — to bypass the fire-ravaged area. But work is yet to start.
However, sources said that the Ramgarh administration was prepared to divert the traffic from Naya More of Kujju to reach Charhi on the highway via Ghato. But they added that it would take at least two months to construct the new route.
Hazaribagh, Aug. 6: Telegraph