100-year Jharia fire: SC asks amicus curiae to help in rehabilitation

Apex court directs Centre, Jharkhand, Bengal, other authorities to assit Gaurav Aggarwal

By Ishan Kukreti
Last Updated: Tuesday 16 July 2019
Photo: Getty Images

The Supreme Court recently requested amicus curiae Gaurav Aggarwal to visit Jharia coal mines in Jharkhand’s Dhanbad district to facilitate rehabilitation of the affected families. 

The bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked Aggarwal to gather first-hand information about the situation of areas covered by both Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL) and Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL).

“While the learned amicus curiae will be free to examine all relevant aspects of the matter, he is requested to primarily concentrate on the number of families that are affected / are likely to be affected and the total number of persons who require rehabilitation,” the court said in its order.

Despite many affidavits, there remains a lack of clarity about the ground situation, the court observed in its order. The matter has been pending since 1997.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by Haradhan Roy, now deceased. Roy was an activist who worked on issues related to worker rights and rehabilitation of affected people in coal mining areas.  

The amicus curiae, after the visit, will have to file a report within four weeks from July 9. On the basis of the number of affected families in the report, modalities like the number of houses to be built for them along with the land and financial requirement will be decided.

“We direct all concerned in the Government of India, the Director General of Mines, the BCCL, the ECL, the States of West Bengal and Jharkhand, as well as the Jharia Rehabilitation and Development Authority, Asansole Durgapur Development Authority, to offer all assistance to the learned amicus curiae to enable him to complete the task assigned by this court in a satisfactory manner,” the court ordered.

“This is a very important order, if they actually go about this properly. The figures of the affected families are very vague, and this would shed some light on it. It is unfortunate that Haradhan Roy isn’t with us today to know about this order,” said Ravi Rebbapragada, Chairperson, Mines, Minerals and People, a national non-profit working on issues related to mining.

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