Govt eases environmental approvals for coal mine expansions
COAL & MINING

Govt eases environmental approvals for coal mine expansions

The government has eased environmental approvals for coal mine expansions to tackle the coal shortage.

With the new regulations, the existing sites will be capable of increasing coal production by a further 10% without needing new environmental impact assessments (EIA). Even the rules on consulting residents have been eased. This arrives after the Coal Ministry has flagged massive pressure on domestic coal supply.

According to a notification by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) issued on May 7, the coal mines can now raise their production capacity to an additional 50% within the same mine lease site. Earlier, they were granted an expansion of 40% without the public hearing needs.

Also, the mines will not need a revised environment impact assessment (EIA) or public consultation. The new modifications in mining coal will stay for the next six months.

The shortages in coal and fuel supply to the power plants amid rising electricity demand owing to the scorching heat waves have triggered hours-long blackouts. The electricity demand has already touched record highs even before the summer peaked in most country's regions.

On top of it, the power plants haven’t been able to develop adequate power, with many working with vital fuel reserves. The small and large industrial units, which are already going through a pandemic-hit economic crisis, have taken to the streets protesting against the power crisis that has led them to become dysfunctional.

The crisis spiralled out of control when the state-run utilities in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu were left with no option but to purchase power at a higher cost to avoid load shedding.

India is likely to encounter more power cuts this year as utilities' coal stocks are at the lowest pre-summer levels in at least nine years, and electricity demand is expected to increase at the fastest speed in at least 38 years.

Coal accounts for about 75% of the electricity production of the country, and with the coal mines and transportation infrastructure of the nation failing to keep pace with the increasing demand for fuel in the power plants, many state governments have lodged their complaints with the government.

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Also read: Coal mines to expand 50% without environment impact assessment

The government has eased environmental approvals for coal mine expansions to tackle the coal shortage. With the new regulations, the existing sites will be capable of increasing coal production by a further 10% without needing new environmental impact assessments (EIA). Even the rules on consulting residents have been eased. This arrives after the Coal Ministry has flagged massive pressure on domestic coal supply. According to a notification by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) issued on May 7, the coal mines can now raise their production capacity to an additional 50% within the same mine lease site. Earlier, they were granted an expansion of 40% without the public hearing needs. Also, the mines will not need a revised environment impact assessment (EIA) or public consultation. The new modifications in mining coal will stay for the next six months. The shortages in coal and fuel supply to the power plants amid rising electricity demand owing to the scorching heat waves have triggered hours-long blackouts. The electricity demand has already touched record highs even before the summer peaked in most country's regions. On top of it, the power plants haven’t been able to develop adequate power, with many working with vital fuel reserves. The small and large industrial units, which are already going through a pandemic-hit economic crisis, have taken to the streets protesting against the power crisis that has led them to become dysfunctional. The crisis spiralled out of control when the state-run utilities in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu were left with no option but to purchase power at a higher cost to avoid load shedding. India is likely to encounter more power cuts this year as utilities' coal stocks are at the lowest pre-summer levels in at least nine years, and electricity demand is expected to increase at the fastest speed in at least 38 years. Coal accounts for about 75% of the electricity production of the country, and with the coal mines and transportation infrastructure of the nation failing to keep pace with the increasing demand for fuel in the power plants, many state governments have lodged their complaints with the government. Image Source Also read: Coal mines to expand 50% without environment impact assessment

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