Six-year-old IIT Indian School of Mines (ISM) Dhanbad has taken up the gauntlet of dousing the 106-years-old Jharia coalfield infernos.
IIT ISM director Prof Rajiv Shekhar while giving this information said to the media that the Central Mining Planning and Design Institute Limited (CMPDIL) and Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) have assigned the project to IIT ISM for controlling the Jharia mines’ fire.
Jharia mines fire was spotted for the first time in 1916 at Bhowra Colliery. Since the nationalization of the coal industry in 1972-73, national and international agencies have already tried to douse the fire and were not successful. Even former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam as a scientist had visited Jharia for assessing the fire in the early 2000s.
According to BCCL, at present, the fire is at 95 spots and reduced to 8.90 square kilometres of the colliery. At the time of nationalization in 1973, the fire was spotted spread over 17.32 square km in 70 mines.
“Applied Zoology department of the institution is preparing artificial mines to assess the depth and density of Jharia fire level in underground mines. The assessment would be uploaded on the computer and thereafter with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) it would be analyzed at which spot what quantity of nitrogen foaming should be done to douse the fire,” said the director.
Prof Shekhar further said that the computer model would help in assessing where, how many minutes, how long duration and at which speed the nitrogen foaming is required to stop the fire.
“For the implementation of this ambitious project, IIT ISM will set up a nitrogen plant at its Nirsa block-based second campus of the institution, around 35 km away from district headquarters. Indian Oil Corporation has also proposed a proposal to fill up the nitrogen in vehicles in place of petrol,” he said.