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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Angul: Panic gripped the locals of Deulabeda village under ward-18 of Talcher Municipality after a 50-feet-deep sinkhole opened up in a farmland out of nowhere on Wednesday.

Sources said the farmland in the village opened up early morning creating a thunderous sound and triggering panic among villagers who were busy in their daily chores.

As per allegations, the landslide was on account of a coal mine of Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) which has been shut, but not properly sand-filled following extraction.

Rahasa Kumar Sahu, the President of Deulabeda Village Committee said, "We have complained to the MCL authorities in the past about the vacuum spots created underground, but they never listened. If we are not provided a permanent solution for this danger lurking beneath us, we'll shut down the entire operation of MCL in the district."

Following the incident, locals staged a protest by blocking the Dera-Handidhuan road.

However, MCL official D. Sahu refuted the allegations and said, "MCL doesn't have the surface rights and access to the land parcels is limited. We are continuously trying to have dialogues with the land owners for sand filling in the area. The matter will be resolved soon."

It's worth mentioning here that this is not the sole occurrence of a sinkhole. In December 2018, a huge sinkhole opened up near Talcher Police Station. Similarly in August 2018, a house under ward-13 of Talcher Municipality collapsed, allegedly due to improper sand filling by the MCL authorities.

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