The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has ordered the closure of Dhanbad-Chandrapura railway line, which is affected by underground coal mine fire, and rail traffic will be suspended completely from June 15. Dhanbad Deputy Commissioner A Dodde said, he had received a letter from the PMO in this regard and a meeting with the Dhanbad divisional rail manager and other officials would be held soon to chalk out the further course of action. The executive director (civil engineer) of the railway board, Anil Kumar Lahoti, also wrote to General Manager of the East Central Railway, D K Gayen, today for the closure of the railway line due to coal mines fire and subsidence in Jharia coalfield. Lahoti, in his letter, said the Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS) had submitted a report on the railway line, saying a 14-km stretch of the total 38 km track was the “most dangerous” due to the underground mines fire. “So, having considered DGMS’ reports based on inspection and study, the (Railway) board has decided to stop operation of passengers and goods traffic with effect from June 15. So take immediate and necessary action accordingly,” the letter said. The board also directed the ECR general manager to submit a proposal for sanction of an alternative railway line to cater to the traffic. Senior commercial manager of the Dhanbad rail division, Ashish Kumar Jha, said the division has received information regarding the closure of the track from June 15.
The closure would impact a total of 24 trains, including Dhanbad-Kerala Alappuza Express, Ranchi–Howrah Shatabdi Express, Ranchi-Gorakhpur Mourya Express, Dhanbad-Bhubaneswar Garib Rath Express, Ranchi-Jayanagar (Bihar) Express, Hatiya- Patna Patliputra Express, Ranchi-Bhagalpur Vananchal Express and Ranchi-Dumka Express, ECR officials said. The Dhanbad–Chandrapura rail track is a major route of freight trains too. An expert committee had been set up by the Dhanbad deputy commissioner after ECL’s Lalmatia mines mishap, in which nine miners were killed on December 29 last year, for assessment of the railway line in January. The committee had recommended suspension of train movements owing to mines fire spreading towards the track. The railways ministry and the PMO were apprised of it and the NITI Aayog permanent member, B K Saraswat, visited the area. Jharkhand Chief Secretary Raj Bala Verma inspected the area in the last week of May.