Karkar coal mine tunnel being rebuilt
Known as P-1, the tunnel is being rebuilt by an Afghan firm that has been awarded a contract for modernising Karkar, Ahandara and Dodkash coal mines in Baghlan.
Eng. Abdul Latif Wahabzai, in charge of the Karkar mine, told Pajhwok Afghan News the tunnel had once been the most productive one in Afghanistan, but fell into neglect after the Soviet invasion.
He said work on rebuilding the mine was launched in May this year and 90 percent of the project had been completed. The tunnel is expected to be ready in a month’s time.
Currently, 150 tonnes of coal is extracted from Karkar and Dodkash mines, but with the completion of the project, the level is projected to reach 250 tonnes a day.
The tunnel, having 200 meters depth and 600 meters declining length, is being rebuilt into a modern structure in the shape of an arch and with the help of steel beams. It has already accounted for $20,000, with more investment still needed.
Under a 49 year agreement with government in 2007, the Afghan Coal Company accepted responsibility for rebuilding and standardising Karkar, Ahandara and Dodkash coalmines.
The firm provides coal to the Ghori Cement factory, which produces 200 tonnes of cement on a daily basis. Coal is widely used as a fuel to heat homes, public toilets and fire brick kilns.
But a representative of Karkar workers, Mohammad Karim, complains most coalmines in the country are faced with problems such as smoke, poisonous gases and lack of oxygen.
He said: “We halt work under such circumstances, but technical teams will take a long time inspecting tunnels and paving the ground for coal extraction.” According to him, almost 600 miners are working in the Dodkash, Karkar and Ahandara.
A miner named Mokhtar says: “When tunnels show signs of collapse, they are often supported with wooden pillars. This is a dangerous practice, compromising worker safety. This also fuels concerns among us that the tunnel may cave in.”
Miners asked the authorities concerned to rebuild the tunnels to new safety standards to let them work without fear. Wahabzai promised the contractor would reconstruct the sites under threat.
There are three additional coalmines in Tala Barfak, Deh Sala and Nahrin districts of Baghlan. Karkar was discovered in the solar year 1317 by a cowboy and made into an enterprise in 1350. In the solar year 1366 it produced 1,600 tonnes of coal, but the level fell to 10,000 tonnes in 1370.
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