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> ‘Burning’ urgency
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Deadly smoking zones of India
Jharia is virtually India’s only reserve of coking coal. As per industry estimates, over 50 million tonnes of coking coal have been lost to subterranean coal fires (SCFs) over the last few decades. These SCFs give birth to plumes of smoke, dead and junk vegetation, and arid and infertile terrain. The exposure of women and children to this kind of environment affects irrevocably their quality of life.
Even those who do not work in the mines also complain of various respiratory illnesses and skin diseases. Due to terrible economic and financial conditions, these victims of deadly gases are left with no choice but to live and work under these deadly prevailing conditions. People residing near mine-sites are forced to consume the contaminated water that affects the children and the pregnant women. The chemical residual gets mixed up with the water table and causes irritation of the respiratory tract, ulcers and pneumonia. Studies reveal that chromium has become a common constituent of the food chain and has been found in edibles like mango, paddy and fish.
Such kinds of subterranean fire has ill effects not only on the health of the population that lives nearby, but indirectly, even on the national economy. The solution, though, is quite complicated, and would require the roping in of international experts. But the same has to be done with ‘burning’ urgency...
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