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Quick stabilisation of pre-1947 Talcher mines possible with local support: MCL

Bhubaneswar: Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) has taken up work of sand stowing in Talcher mines on top priority, which will be completed with the active support from local population in removing approach congestions for sand transportation to the pre-independence underground network.

MCL has placed work order on Central Institute for Mining and Fuel Research (CIMFR), Dhanbad, a pioneer scientific agency of national repute, to carry out the scientific study for assessing the present status of long term stability of all underground workings of Talcher coalfields.

In Talcher, the oldest coalfields of Odisha, the underground mining operations started in 1928 at Handidhua Colliery, Deulbera Colliery & Talcher Colliery, which became inactive in year 1998, 2006 and 2018 respectively.

Since most of the development of these mines were done without scientific approach for about five decades before nationalisation of coal sector in 1976, identifying underground network of these mines has always been a tough task for MCL, the Coal India subsidiary that operated these mines lastly.

As per old mine records, the incident of pothole was reported in 1952, which is very near to the site where ground depression (seemingly pot hole, having surface dimension of about 07 Mtrs diameter) was reported to have been occurred at about 11:00 hrs on 15th of January 2020.

At least 12 potholes had occurred at Handidhua Colliery, as per old mine plan, and average depth of developed pillars at the site may be about 24 meters.

The exact location of the pothole with respect to the underground workings has been ascertained by survey instruments and it has been found to be cited over the workings on the rise side of the property, where 02 potholes having marked as No. 1 & 2 on the old mine plans are located.

Since surface rights over the underground workings were never required to be acquired under any stipulation and the extraction of coal in a particular area have been done with due permission of regulatory authority, the Coal India subsidiary MCL, which finally operated the mine, now finds itself in a confused state whenever it’s held answerable on such incidents.

By virtue of present ownership, MCL has always been affirmative to undertake stablisation work but practical constraints of inaccessible vulnerable areas developed during pre-nationalisation era and the resistance posed by the local dwellers over the workings has always been a challenge.

It is, however, painful whenever we are blamed for non-execution of stabilisation work for the reasons beyond the control of present management.

However, MCL is committed to stabalise the underground workings done in the past and has placed a work order recently to CIMFR, Dhanbad, a pioneer scientific agency of national repute to carry out the scientific study.

MCL has already initiated a process for regional planning of Talcher coalfields with IIT Kharagpur providing consultancy service.