Manbhum, Bengal District Gazetteer (1911)
"Manbhum" by H. Coupland, I.C.S., in the Bengal District Gazetteers series, Bengal Secretariat Book Depot, Calcutta, 1911
Made available by the Internet Archive.
Source: Library of the University of California, San Diego
Edited by R Sivaramakrishnan. Posted to IRFCA on: August 29, 2008.
Till within comparatively recent times the district of Manbhum was very badly served in the matter of means of communication both by road and rail, but the last 15 years has seen a very considerable development.
The East Indian Chord line was completed to Barakhar in 1858, and for the next 31 years communication with Calcutta and the outside world generally was via Barakhar or Raniganj. In 1885 the Bengal-Nagpur Railway Company started the construction of the Bilaspur-Asansol branch connecting their main Nagpur line with the East Indian system, and this branch was opened in 1889. The line crosses the Damodar six miles south of Asansol, and for a distance of 83 miles traverses the district in a south-westerly direction, connecting Purfilia with Asansol, on the East Indian Railway, and with Sini and Chakradharpur on the Bengal Nagpur Railway.
In 1894 the East Indian Railway Company extended their system from Barakhar to Jharia and Katras, so opening up the Jharia coalfield area. Nine years later, in February 1903, the Kharagpur-Gomoh section of the Bengal- Nagpur line was opened
to goods traffic as far as Bhojudih, and in the following year for goods and passenger traffic as far as Mulkera, the complete length to Gomoh not being ready till January 1907, this affording another outlet for the products of the coalfield. In February 1907 the Grand Chord of the East Indian Railway, which practically doubled the existing line through the coalfield and gave a direct outlet towards the North-West Provinces and Bombay, was opened. The most recent addition to the railway system is the Purulia-Ranchi line on the 2'-6''' guage, which was opened in February 190S ; 36 miles of this railway lie within the district of Manbhum, and afford an outlet for the grain and jungle products of the western portion of the district.
The collieries are served by a network of loops, branches, and sidings taking off from the main lines of both the Bengal-Nagpur and East Indian systems, and the inter-connection of the two systems at Gomoh, Katrasgarh and Jharia makes it possible for the colliery proprietor to despatch his coal to any part of India by the most convenient route.
Further extensions of the railway system are in progress or contemplated. A direct line from Pradhankhunta on the Grand Chord to Pathordih at the extreme south-eastern corner of the coalfield is under construction, the intention being to relieve the congestion of eastward bound traffic which at present has to pass through Dhanbaid. An extension of the Bengal-Nagpur system from Khanudih in the extreme west of the Jharia field, through the Bokharo-Ramgarh field in the Hazaribagh district, is at present under survey.
According to the figures supplied by the Agents of the Railway Companies, there are at present some 300 miles of open line within the district, of which 230 are available for both passenger and goods traffic, the balance consisting of special colliery branches. Connected with the Bengal-Nagpur system there are some 75 colliery sidings, and with the East Indian system no less than 160 with a total length of over 70 miles and these are constantly being added to.
... In the pre-railway days the Damodar river was utilised during the rains for the despatch of coal, limber and other local products in small country boats or rafts, but the currents are so rapid and the bed so liable to changes that navigation was at all times difficult and dangerous, and now that railways provide safer and easier means of transport, practically no attempt is made to utilise this river.