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Ethora is a village in the Asansol subdivision of the Bardhaman district in the Indian state of West Bengal which was a site of the first attempts at commercial coal extraction in the country.


In 1774, two employees of the East India Company, Suetonius Grant Heatly and John Sumner, proposed to establish six mines in an area which they defined as

within the space included by the river Adji to the north, the border of Burdwan to the east, the river Damooda to the south, and a circular line to the west, described from the town of Aytura in Pachete, at the distance of ten miles from Aytura, between the one river and the other.[1]

A site at Ethora was among the six selected and was probably the first to operate.[2][3][4][5][nb 1]

According to the anthropologist Morton Klass, by 1963 it "had become a sleepy village of mud houses scattered among the ruins of once much grander buildings." However, until the independence of India from British rule in 1947 it had been of local significance as it was home to a zamindar successor to the Maharajah of Kasipur and to both religious centres and schools, although it had never possessed a market. Klass noted in 1978 that it was still a focal point of sorts for the villages that surrounded it because many Brahmin priests continued to live there, along with other castes with specialist occupational roles.[6]


In August 1921 the village suffered an epidemic and at that time the population was recorded as being 1902. The Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene reported that "the primary cause was neglected diarrhoea, due to eating indigestible food".[7]


  1. ^ These are old transliterations. The Damooda is the Damodar River, the Adji is probably the Ajay River, and Aytura is Ethora. The men referred also to Bheerbhoom, which may be today's Birbhum district.
  1. ^ Heatly, S. G. Tollemache (1842). "Contributions towards a History of the development of the Mineral Resources of India". Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal (Asiatic Society of Bengal) 11 (2): 814. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  2. ^ Gee, E. R. (10 August 1940). "History of Coal-Mining in India" (PDF). Indian National Science Academy 6 (3): 313. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  3. ^ Hilson, Gavin M. (2003). The socio-economic impacts of artisanal and small-scale mining in developing countries. Taylor & Francis. p. 435. ISBN 978-90-5809-615-9. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  4. ^ "Energy exploration & exploitation" 11. Graham & Trotman. 1993. p. 88. 
  5. ^ Chatterjee, A. B.; Gupta, Avijit; Mukhopadhyay, Pradip K. (1970). West Bengal. Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay. p. 118. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  6. ^ Klass, Morton (1996) [1978]. From field to factory: community structure and industrialization in West Bengal. University Press of America. pp. 117–118. ISBN 978-0-7618-0420-8. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  7. ^ "Journal of tropical medicine and hygiene". 26-27. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. 1923. p. 68. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 

Coordinates: 23°44′03″N 86°58′07″E / 23.7341°N 86.9685°E / 23.7341; 86.9685