Fresh cracks have developed in several hundred houses of eight villages near the mine of Barapukuria Coal Mining Company Ltd (BCMCL) in Parbatipur upazila of the district due to the tremors and subsidence during extraction of coal, villagers said.
The villages are Bashpukur, Boidyanathpur, Shivkrishnapur, Patigram, Boigram, Kashiadanga, Kalupara and Panchgharia in Hamidpur union of the upazila.
The mine authorities had detected land subsidence in 2006 following development of cracks in hundreds of houses and educational institutions in 11 villages near the coalmine, one year after it started production.
Following a wave of protests by residents of those villages, the government agreed to acquire 646 acres of land and paid Tk 191 crore to 2,600 families as compensation between 2010 and 2012, villagers and mine officials said.
Hamidpur union Chairman Sadequl Islam said cracks have developed in houses situated outside the acquired land zone. “It's a concern for the villagers, who fear they might have to leave their homes,” he said, adding that the villagers were also facing a water crisis as the tubewells have dried up due to pumping of underground water.
Aminul Islam of Patigram said he spent Tk 20,000 for repairing his house, but cracks continue to develop in other places. He said around 50 houses in his village have developed cracks, adding that they were also facing a crisis of drinking water.
The people of affected villages formed a committee called Jibon, Poribesh O Sampad Rakkha Committee to organise protest against the new threat. Convener M Moshiur Rahman Bulbul said over telephone that they are yet to count the number of affected houses, but it will not be less than 1,000.
“The situation aggravated when the household tubewells dried up with the start of dry spell,” Aminul said, adding that the villagers are not against the coalmine. He criticised the mining officials for not taking care of the villagers.
Affected villagers formed a human chain on both sides of Barapukuria mine on Monday, urging the authorities to keep the vibration and water crisis to a tolerable level.
“We need to run out of the house when it starts shaking,” said Mojibul Mondal of Bashpukur village. Ponds of the area have also started drying up as winter approaches, he added.
A high official of BCMCL, seeking anonymity, told this correspondent that they saw fresh cracks in houses out of the zone of influence of the mine in recent times. The affected area covered around four acres, he said.
Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Parbatipur Tarafdar Mahmudur Rahman said he received a letter from the villagers in this regard.
Managing Director of BCMCL SMN Aurangajeb said he received a letter about the issue on Monday. They will investigate the matter and take effective measures to solve the problem.
Local lawmaker, also Minister of Primary and Mass Education Ministry Mostafizur Rahman told the mine authorities to investigate the matter.