the underground fire has resurfaced as a raging row in Jharia, a small industrial town near Dhanbad in Jharkhand. What has stoked the controversy afresh is state chief minister (cm) Babulal Marandi's announcement that nearly 0.3 million people would be evacuated from the area. Local leaders, irrespective of their political affiliations, are opposing the state government's move. It is alleged that the decision has been influenced by Bharat Coking Coal Limited's (bccl) keen interest in displacing people to extract buried coal. When contacted, authorities of bccl, a public sector undertaking, refused to comment.
The issue has created a rift within the ruling party itself. State science and technology minister Samaresh Singh and urban development minister Bachcha Singh have severely criticised the cm's statement. While the local Bharatiya Janta Party (bjp) and Samata Party leaders are guarded in their reaction, the opposition leaders are openly critical about the move. A K Baksi, a labour leader of Centre for Indian Trade Unions (citu), a Marxist trade union and, a frontline advisor of