Underground coal mining policy to be unveiled soon

The Centre is considering measures to boost underground coal mining and will soon come up with a policy framework. The government aims to increase coal output from underground mines to 100 million tonnes from the current 26 million tonnes per year.

The environmental impact of underground coal mines is lower than open cast mines, as large-scale deforestation is not required. Displacement of people too is significantly less. The impact on the environment from underground coal mines is minimized because in open cast mines the entire forest cover has to be removed. Lot of loss of the agricultural land is also involved. But in underground coal mines, because of the technologies available now the forest cover is not required to be removed. There is minimal displacement of people and it is a very eco-friendly mining.

The Coal Ministry on Wednesday launched the eighth round of commercial coal mines auctions where it is offering a total of 39 mines. The mines being auctioned are spread across the coal bearing states of Jharkhand, Odisha, Maharashtra, West Bengal, and Bihar. As per a road map, Coal India Ltd expects coal from underground mines to be around 31-34 million tonnes in FY24, rising to 99-100 million tonnes in FY28. These mines being auctioned come under CMSP Act and MMDR Act.

For  this 8th round also, mines falling under protected areas, wildlife sanctuaries, critical habitats, having forest cover greater than 40%, heavily built-up area etc. have been excluded. The block boundaries of some of the coal mines where there was presence of dense habitation, high green cover or critical infrastructure etc. have been modified for early development of coal mine. On 24 October, it has been reported that Centre is set to launch the eighth round of commercial coal block auction soon with around 40 blocks on offer, in a first, the Union Ministry of Coal has carried out on-ground verification of the blocks to be auctioned and prepared video brochures for bidders to increase investor interest.