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Centre Eases Environmental Rules for Coal Mines to Tackle Power Crisis

The move will help government rope in private miners like Vedanta and Adani in its efforts to boost coal production

Coal Production

Led by the surge in power demand due to severe heatwave across the country, union environment ministry has relaxed environmental compliance rules for coal mines to ramp up production, said a government notice dated May 7.

In April, the power ministry said that the country’s peak power demand touched an all-time high of 207,111 MW. While coal spot prices have seen a massive swell since the beginning of the year, the ongoing heatwaves have left the country with a shortfall of 25 million tonne.

An AFP report said that the ministry has allowed a “special dispensation” to the coal ministry to relax some norms such as public consultations so that mines could operate at increased capacities. The report added that coal ministry had sought relaxation in environmental norms stating that “there is huge pressure on domestic coal supply in the country and all efforts are being made to meet the demand of coal for all sectors”.

The government letter also directed that select coal mines will now be able to raise their production by 10 per cent without an impact assessment and rules on consulting local residents.

With the approval, government hopes to rope in private mining giants such as Vedanta and Adani in its efforts to ramp up coal production, said the report. Centre aims to revive more than 100 inactive coal mines, previously deemed too expensive to operate, using new technology and fresh capital.

India requires a billion tonnes of coal every year to meet its current domestic demand. Most of country’s needs are met by domestic producers. The Centre had earlier said that it is planning to increase domestic coal production to 1.2 billion tonnes in the next two years to help a post-pandemic economic recovery. The coal and mines minister Pralhad Joshi last week said that India’s coal needs are set to double by 2040.

Currently, coal accounts for India’s 70 per cent electricity generation.

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