Central Bhowrah Colliery
Date of the Accident – 20.2.1958
Owner – Central Bhawrah Coal Co. Ltd.
Number of persons killed – 23
Place – Jharia Coalfield
Inrush of water from the abandoned workings of an adjoining mine. The Central Bhowrah Coal Co. Ltd. had acquired a plot of 100 bighas (13.38 hectares) and started developing it through a pair of inclines towards the end of the year 1956. Adjoining this plot were the abandoned workings of Sowardih Colliery which had been worked upto 1927. Sowardih had both opencast and extensive underground workings which were filled up with water. The boundary between the 100 bigha plot and Sowardih was not clearly demarcated and the extent of abandoned workings was not shown fully on the plan. Thus a huge accumulation of water existed in the underground and the connected opencast workings of Sowardih but the management of Central Bhowrah was not aware that the Bhowrah workings were so close to the abandoned workings.
At about 5 a.m. on 20th February a level gallery of Central Bhowrah holed into the old workings of Sowardih and water rushed in and flooded the Central Bhowrah workings. The water level in the Sowardih opencast pool had gone down by 2.78 m in only 2 hours after the accident. 29 persons were engaged in that shift. 4 miners had come out for some reason or the other. 2 persons, including the mining sirdar, ran out on hearing the roar produced by the inrush of water. The 23 miners who were left behind must have been drowned immediately.
A number of pumps were put into operation within a few hours of the accident to dewater the mine but so huge was the accumulation of water that it took more than a month to pump it out. By that time the bodies were so decomposed that none of them could be identified.
The Court inquiring into this accident found that the workings of Central Bhowrah had proceeded 21 m into the boundary of Sowardih. Although the RIM had discussed the possibility of violation of both CMR-107 and CMR-127(3) with the manager about two months prior to the accident and issued a letter to the management, the management neither bothered to determine the correct boundary nor made any efforts to determine the extent of the old workings of Sowardih. Therefore it had neither obtained permission of the CIM for extending the workings within 60 m of the abandoned workings nor taken the precaution to drill exploratory boreholes in advance of the workings. The accident was thus caused by the mangement’s deliberate disregard of the law.