DST – NIAS Sustainable Pathways to Energy Utilisation – Volume 1: Improving the environmental governance of coal mines in India through a unified authority (Research Report No. NIAS/NSE/EEP/U/RR/06/2021)
Source:NIAS, Bangalore, p.72 + iv pages, 3 tables and one figure (2021)
Keywords:Coal Mine Environment Authority, Environmental regulation, Forest governance, mine closure, Sustainable coal mining
India’s per capita electricity consumption is less than one-third of the World's average.Seventy two percent of the electricity generated in India is powered by coal of which India is the World’s second-largest producer. India is in the process of enhancing domestic coal production to provide affordable electricity to its population of 1.33 billion.
Coal mining and thermal power generation are critical for India to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals, but their long-term sustainability must be improved.The Government of India has taken numerous steps, including auctioning coal mines for commercial coal mining, inviting foreign direct investment, relaxing end-use restrictions, and opening a single portal to track different approvals and clearances required for commencing coal mining operations.
However, the current framework of multiple authorities under different laws governing various approvals and clearances has resulted in the overlap of jurisdictions, duplicity of procedures, and inadequate monitoring and enforcement of environmental laws. In this research,the authors examine various acts and rules related to the environmental regulation of coal mines in India to highlight the issues in the grant of key approvals and clearances.
The authors then propose a “Sustainable Coal Mining Bill” to constitute a unified authority named “Coal Mines Environment Authority” and outline the composition and functioning of this Authority to minimize the adverse environmental impacts of coal mining projects. This independent authority will adopt an integrated approach to both mining and the environment to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency, and transparency of the environmental regulation of coal mines and ensure sustainable energy security for India.
Finally, the authors retail enabling amendments in the extant mining, forest, and environment laws to balance energy security with sustainable development in India since environmental challenges are bound to increase with the participation of the private players