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No hospital in 8-km range of ‘New Jharia’

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2600 hundred families have been shifted to 1500 quarters in Belgaria, 22 kilometers from Jharia town, a new colony surrounded by jungles with no basic amenities within commutable range.

There is no hospital or medical care, no school, no shops, and, worst of all, no jobs at all. The people of Belgaria have to travel more than 8 kilometers to reach Dhanbad or come back to Jharia to avail the nearest hospital.

Leela, an elderly women living in the new Jharia for a year now said, “Just a month ago a lady died while being taken to Dhanbad in labor pain. We could not take her to hospital on time even booking a vehicle with all money we had.”

“To add to the woes the roads that lead to Dhanbad or Jharia is through jungles. No proper road has been made since the township has been rehabilitated.” retorted Mohan, another resident of Belgaria.

Rajan, a student who has to travel to Jharia everyday to attend his college said, “There is no water or electricity in the area. The street lights are all defunct. The entire area is engulfed in darkness after sunset.”

The residents who are facing immediate evacuation are opposed to moving to Belgaria, where they have been provided accommodation of 10 by 9 feet. The residents wonder how a family of five to six members can adjust and sleep in such a small area.

“There is no water and electricity; this is an attempt to make us homeless,” said Madan Lal Khanna, Secretary of the Jharia Coalfield Bachao Samiti (JCBS), “besides the most of the people have yet received the shifting allowance of Rs 10,000. Moreover since last three months we are paying a sum of Rs 250 each month for water which is supposed to be free for us and we have no receipt of the same.”

Families living in Gwalapati, Lujpit, Rajput Bustee, Bokapahari and Modivita localities in Jharia are to have been shifted to Belgaria within 100 days in mid-October last year where Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) and Jharia Rehabilitation Development Authority (JRDA) has constructed 3,400 flats of 203 square feet each under a pilot project.

Under the Jharia rehabilitation plan, about 80,000 families are to be evacuated and rehabilitated. Instead of doing something against the fires, one of the biggest resettlement plans worldwide is to be carried out, Jharia Action Plan (JAP). Central and Jharkhand government has sanctioned more than Rs 9 crore for rehabilitation and dousing of the underground mine fire.

According to BCCL sources, more than 68,000 families will be shifted from the fire zone area of Jharia. According to sources, Rs.4,500 crore will be spent on rehabilitation and Rs.2,400 crore on dousing the underground fire to save billions of tonnes of quality coal for BCCL.

Four satellite townships are coming up to house displaced families, two in Baliapur circle and one each in Topchanchi and Baghmara. This apart, the BCCL is again carrying out a survey of families of employees living in the fire-ravaged areas. Coal India Limited Board has approved construction of 16,000 quarters.

CMD of BCCL T.K. Lahiri told that with the approval of the Rs 9,657-crore master plan by both the Centre and State governments and subsequent division of responsibilities between JRDA and BCCL, there remains little confusion.

“The rehabilitation work undertaken by JRDA is progressing at a smooth pace. While JRDA is responsible for rehabilitation of non-BCCL families, the coal company is taking care of its employees.” Lahiri said.

JRDA Superintending Engineer Narendra Kumar said, “Remaining people of most endangered areas, including Bokapahari, Kurkurtopa and PB area, would get their letters by of the year. Though 267 non-BCCL families have been given quarters in Belgaria, they refused to shift as there was no water and power supply. We have solved the problem now,”

However,Lahiri said shifting families of their employees would be carried out in phases. “The entire process of relocation of some 3,000 BCCL families will be completed in three to four years,” he said.

Image courtesy: http://www.zimbio.com

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A Journalist based in Ranchi, Jharkhand.

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