Toxics Link Public Lecture Series: Hot as Hell

Toxics Link’s Environment & Health Public Lecture Series

ToxicsLink LogoHot as Hell

Screening : Hot as Hell; Directed by Paranjoy Guha Thakurta

Mining and industrial projects marginalise the poor and exasperate inequalities in the name of development allover the world. Although mining has been promoted as a livelihood option it employs less than 5.6% people in India today. Jharia in Jharkhand which is known for its massive store of primary coking coal and for raging underground coal fire has a different story to tell. The small township with billions of worth of coal is reeling under poverty. The prevailing lawless situation and thriving mining mafia apart from the coal fire literally turned life here a hell.
Experts say it is the unscientific mining cause the inferno in Jharia. The life of more than 4 lakh people in the township is really miserable.

‘Hot as Hell’ by Paranjoy Guha Thakurta seeks to explain why there is underground fire in Jharia for over a century. He also breaks in to the nexus between mining mafia and politicians. The documentary series also features mysterious death and disappearance of those who opposed mining.

Toxics Link invites you for a screening of the film on 11 February at India International Centre.

Screening : Hot as Hell; duration 60 minutes, Directed by Paranjoy Guha Thakurta
Panelist : Chandra Bhushan, Associate Director, Center for Science and Environment
Moderator : Satish Sinha, Associate Director, Toxics Link

Date : 11th Feb 2009, Wednesday
Time : 6:30 p.m.
Venue: Conference Room 1, India International Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi (In collaboration with India International Centre)

For further information, please contact:
Pragya Majumder –
Bindu Milton –
T: 24320711, 24328006

Anjana Dey

Anjana Dey hails from the north-eastern state of Assam and holds a master's degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Delhi.

2 thoughts on “Toxics Link Public Lecture Series: Hot as Hell

  1. If I was there, I’d probably help some of those poor people carry their coal. Of course I have compassion on people.

    I am pro-life and pro-population and believe families should grow large naturally, and we should not try to “control” family size, all children being wonderful blessings from God. We humans can’t “control” everything, so even our families should be welcome to grow naturally, allowing human populations to increase “wildly.”

    But you can’t stop nature from spontaneously combusting the coal, so it’s a nature thing we can’t do much about but let the huge out-of-control coal fires burn and spread as they will. Help people move to a better place or to stay put, whichever they want.

    Natural resources in tropical countries, by Jin-Bee Ooi, Commonwealth Geographical Bureau, page 162, says, “Once such a fire has come up, it will go on intensifying with the aid of sufficient amount of coal and oxygen available to it. When the coal is burnt, the void created within the earth causes further subsidence of the surface, resulting into more cracks, which will further increase the area of the fire. Thus, it becomes a cyclic operation and goes on increasing its area of action by itself.”

    Thus, I can understand the futility of trying to “control” such huge naturally-growing unstoppable infernos, and why coal fires too far gone, not caught very early, have to be left to burn wild unchecked. No telling just how far the inaccessible spreading fingers of fire may have extended underground? Often coal seam fires start all by themselves, from either lightning, forest fires, or spontaneous combustion. What we don’t use of natural resources, nature finds some way to burn off, eventually.

  2. I wish I could watch the video clips, but my Mac computer software latest Flash update just won’t do it. Old computer? Maybe I could understand better?

    I read of vast subterranean fires, spontaneously oxidizing/heating up, combusting. Coal fires have spread, spilled into thickly populated villages. Sounds like it’s already an unstoppable huge inferno that will keep growing, spreading naturally, slowly, no matter what people do to fight it. All the prevailing conditions fan the fires. And yet it’s much less harmful than a natural forest fire, much calmer than a natural volcano, because it’s somewhat predictable and slow spreading. What? Only 5 or 6 meters per month?

    So let the coal fires grow and spread naturally, and keep mining coal where it’s safe enough for people to work. Let the immense coal seams heat up naturally and maybe burst into flames, as I don’t see how we are to stop it. Often coal won’t get quite hot enough to ignite, depending on quality/formation?, but it’s an exothermic reaction, that the hotter it gets, the faster it oxidizes and heats up, causing uncontrollable spontaneous ignitions. Who to blame for that but nature? An entire cliff on fire, burning millions of tons of coal? That’s virtually inexhaustible fuel in unlimited oxygen environment, how’s there any stopping that? It’s a natural curious process of nature burning off excessive hydrocarbons, that only nature or God can much control. Once an underground coal fire gets going, there’s almost no stopping it. So let it grow natural and leave it to nature then. Don’t waste money on the gloriously futile.

    I don’t see much about the perils of fighting such uncontrollable fires. While a person most likely would not fall into the ground, what about a person on a heavy bulldozer? Let the people move to some better land, or stay put, as they wish. But to do anything to fight such fires, they have to move everybody out, then it reignites, waste a bunch of money, then the people are mad because they don’t get their land back.

    I think countries such as India, have every right to let their coalfields burn unchecked, making little effort to fight the advancing fires, because what are they supposed to do to stop uncontrollable huge underground fires? The people need the cheap energy of coal, because their poverty is far worse, although poverty may not make headlines.

    And large families should be encouraged worldwide, so that far more people may experience life. How do we humans think we can “control” every mighty force of nature?

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