A Dying Land
Jharia, India - For 100-years a fire has been raging in India's major coal mining region. The fire has been burning underground with no signs of stopping and with an unlimited fuel supply of coal. There are legends as to how the fire began from a local accidentally setting it alight to natural gas combustion.
Across Jharia, the underground fire is causing severe and inter-connected health, environmental, and social development issues.
As the fire burns uncontrollably, a constant plume of deadly toxic gases and particulates are released, which blanket the region day and night. Carbon dioxide, sulfur, lead, arsenic, and more, which are all linked to severe health conditions when inhaled is the regions daily breath of air. The women and children that work in the mines that scavenge coal to sell on the black market share the highest risk.
Jharia is a poignant reminder of our societies reliance on fossil fuels, which are responsible for climate change. How far we push the human and environmental cost to meet our energy needs is a question unanswered. For now, the people of Jharia are so reliant on the coal mines to make a living that the benefits far outweigh the cost and risk. After all, there are few alternatives in burning and dying land.