Are coal mines triggering quakes in Singrauli area of MP?

Experts say unfilled abandoned mines, high-intensity blasts may be the cause

Bhopal: Panic gripped the residents of Waidhan area of Singrauli district on Tuesday morning and again late in the night, as tremors jolted the region, and led to some houses developing cracks.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) confirmed that the tremors that occurred at night was an earthquake but said nothing about the morning incident.

This is the second time in four months that Singrauli has been rocked by tremors. On April 10, 2018, similar tremors were felt, and both IMD and USGS recorded it as low-intensity earthquake of 4.6 on the Richter scale.

Last one year

Slight to moderate tremors are being felt frequently by local residents since last one year. Though district administration is clueless. If experts are to be believed, these tremors are due to heavy illegal blasts in the coal mines and poor management of abandoned coal mines.

Activists and local residents say the intensity of blasts taking place in the coal mines are way more than prescribed limit. According to them, whenever such tremors are recorded, officials of National Coalfield Ltd (NCL) and district administration have a one-line answer that all norms are being followed during blasts.

Rampant mining

Cracks in a house following the tremors

“Neither administration nor other bodies responsible to keep a check over rampant mining are bothered about the massive ill-effects, which mining is leaving on lives of residents,” said Supreme Court lawyer and activist, Ashwini Dubey.

On Tuesday, when walls of several houses cracked in Waidhan area of the district, tremors were recorded in early morning. Another tremor was recorded in the night at around 9.47 pm which was even recorded by India Meteorological Department (IMD) as well. This is not even the prescribed time for conducting blasts in mines. NCL spokesperson released a statement that blasts are carried out only between 2pm and 3pm.

If it’s an earthquake, why IMD didn’t record it?

When tremors of earthquake were felt on April 10, 2018, in Singrauli, it was in the records of both United States Geological Survey (USGS) and India Meteorological Department (IMD). But when tremors of similar intensity were felt on Tuesday morning, neither USGS nor IMD reported it. This has again raised questions over claims of NCL that they are not flouting norms. However, after second tremor at night IMD released an update late night confirming there was an earthquake with an epicentre in Sidhi district, at a depth of 10 km 

Water-filled abandoned mines

According to senior IMD scientist, Anupam Kashyapi, studies have revealed that water collected in abandoned mines, which are not covered properly after coal extraction, may lead to slight tremors. Also, if digging continues after a stipulated limit, it may lead to tremors, he added. He said it is important to fill such mines properly.

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M. Poornima

Principal Correspondent DBPost Past : Hindustan Time