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The fire that has been smoldering for over 100 years cannot be extinguished in India

At a coal mine in Jharia, Dhanbad district – one of India’s largest reserves, a smoldering fire has been occurring for more than 100 years.

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This coal mine belongs to the Jharia mine, covers an area of over 100 square miles, it began to be mined in the 1800s under British rule. The first fire started in 1916 and by the 1980s more than 70 had started. The flames often smolder deep underground.

Currently, none of them have been checked, let alone turn them off. It was once hoped that they would turn off on their own. Unfortunately, a new mining operation in 1973 extinguished this hope.

In that year, Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL), a member company of the state-owned Indian Coal Company, began large-scale surface coal mining operations – here is Price is a Method of quick and efficient extraction. Local activist Ashok Agarwal told Al Jazeera it was also the time when the fires broke out with dire consequences.

Ambitious miners get cheap coal fast … but there is an underground mining operation that has taken place here. Many tunnels have been dug to extract the coal, making the floor of these tunnels often covered with small pieces of coal, and they easily catch fire. By operating openly, these tunnels will gradually reveal themselves and then the gas inside overflows, a large fire is formed.

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The house lives in the coal mining area and is close to the fire. (Photo: Youtube / Al Jazeera English

The influx of oxygen into the pit will fuel steaming embers with gigantic flames, some reaching up to 20 meters. Many fires started to burn due to the oxidation of minerals in the surface coal mines, but they worsened when these surface mining operations caused embers (which were smoldering in the pit). exposed to oxygen and burned.

An open-cast coal mining scene beside and above the fires. (Photo: TripoStories-AB / Wikimedia Commons)

Experts estimate that more than 37 million tons of coal (worth billions of dollars) were damaged in these out of control fires, more than 1.4 billion tons of coal could not be mined inaccessible by fires. eunuchs. Although the greenhouse gas emissions from the fire are quite severe, the Indian government is expected to increase production in the region. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been accused of an initiative to expand surface coal mining which has led to an increase in fires.

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Smoke caused by fires in the coal mining area. (Youtube screenshot)

In the nearby village of Bhulan Bararee, residents live in extreme poverty and discomfort. Resident Mohammad Nasim Ansari told YourStory: “The ground is too hot everywhere and it is impossible to walk with walking shoes. Almost everyone here is sick. The authorities asked the villagers to leave their homes and evacuate. But most people are afraid of losing their livelihood, so they stay. ”

Poisonous gas emits from a burning coal mine and particles (dust) enter the air, making breathing dangerous. The underground fires have also caused huge sinkholes that have claimed many lives over the years.

“It’s not hard to imagine the emissions caused by these fires,” Glenn Stracher, professor emeritus of geology and physics at East Georgia Community College, told CNBC. I have collected gas samples from various fires, it usually contains 40-50 hydrocarbon compounds, and many of them are toxic or carcinogenic. It’s really bad, very bad. The reality is that there are toxins or poisons in these fires, and they certainly exceed the standards allowed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Sadly, the Jharia coal fire is only one of the thousands in the world. This is not only very expensive and dangerous, but also seriously affects the fuel source which brings rapid economic development to the western world.

The emissions caused by these fires are almost immeasurable when the flames are irregular, sometimes they cool, sometimes they go up. Although there are methods of calming, limiting and extinguishing the fire like pouring sand into the fire, pumping inert gas through tunnels, … but it is also very difficult to control them, let alone extinguish them. In addition, performing these activities is also expensive and less efficient.

Experts suspect that the fire will not be completely extinguished if there is fuel left to burn.

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