The Government has put major thrust on sustainable development in coal mining and is taking multi-pronged action on both environmental and social fronts. The Ministry of Coal has moved forward with a comprehensive Sustainable Development Plan and has initiated its speedy implementation.
Primary focus is on making immediate social impact through Out of Box (OoB) measures besides regular environmental monitoring and mitigation during mining operation. These OoB measures include use of surplus Mine Water for irrigation & drinking purpose in and around mining areas, extraction & use of Sand from Overburden (OB), promoting Eco-Mine Tourism, encouraging Bamboo Plantation, etc.
Top most priority is being given to gainful utilization of Mine Water for irrigation & providing treated water for drinking to rural population in and around command area of mining subsidiaries of CIL, SCCL & NLCIL. Huge volume of mine water released during mining operation is partially utilized for internal consumption by coalmines for providing drinking water in their colonies, dust suppression, industrial use, plantation etc.
The internal consumption constitutes about 45% of total mine water leaving a substantial volume for community use. Some of the subsidiaries of CIL are already providing mine water for irrigation purpose and drinking water to nearby villages.
10 new Eco-Parks in different mining areas are under different stages of development in various subsidiaries of CIL, SCCL & NLCIL. Coal companies have already developed 15 eco-parks in various coalfields. The Saoner Eco Park of WCL near Nagpur is running Eco-Mine Tourism Circuit, a first of its kind in India, in collaboration with MTDC where people can visit and see mining operation of both Opencast & Underground Mines.
There is a likely plan to start Eco-Mine Tourism Circuit in different coal companies to showcase efforts made by coal companies in environmental protection. Bamboo Plantation along coal transport roads and on the edges of mines will help in minimizing dust pollution.
Extraction of sand from Over Burden (OB) for use as construction & stowing material is another unique initiative promoting sustainable development through gainful utilization of wastes generated during mining. This will not only help in availability of cheaper sand for house & other construction but will also minimize the land required for OB dump in future projects.
This initiative also lowers the adverse footprint of riverbed mining of sand. Such effort has already started in WCL, where sand produced through large Sand Processing Plant is being used for low cost housing scheme under Pradhan Mantri Aavas Yojana (PMAY) & also for construction by other Government & Private Agencies.
First Mile Connectivity (FMC) is another major sustainable initiative by coal companies, where coal is being transported through conveyor belt from Coal Handling Plants to Silo for loading. This process eliminates movement of coal through road and thus not only minimizes the environmental pollution, but also reduces the carbon footprint.
Taking a big step, 35 such projects have been planned to be commissioned by 2023-24 handling more than 400 million tonnes of coal with an investment of Rs. 12500 Crore.
Towards use of renewable energy, CIL has set a target to establish 3 GW of Solar PV projects by FY24 to become self-reliant in electricity. In addition, 1 mega SPV Project with 1000 MW capacity will be set up in joint collaboration of CIL & NLCIL with an investment of Rs. 4000 Cr.
Bio-Reclamation and massive tree plantation has been one of the key thrust areas of coal companies in promoting environmental sustainability. New techniques like seed ball plantation have been adopted in many mines for providing green cover on OB Dumps. Till 2020, coal companies have brought about 56000 Ha of land under green cover by planting 135 million trees in and around mining areas.
Target of 2021-22 is to have more than 2000 hectares of affected land converted into green cover. Monitoring of such efforts is being done through remote sensing. Similarly, systematic mine closure plan with land reclamation & restoration is also vigorously monitored to reuse the reclaimed land for agriculture purpose in future.
A massive capital expenditure investment plan on activities related to Sustainable Development in next five years has been made. The investment includes expenditure on Mining Equipment, Setting up of Solar Plants, Surface Coal Gasification, First Mile Connectivity Projects & on all other out of box activities for environmental protection. All these activities will pave way in next 5 years for benchmarking a much better Sustainable Development effort by Coal Industry on Economic, Environmental & Social front.