Minister of Coal, Pralhad Joshi, told the media that India’s coal demand is growing and will continue to grow. However, the energy transition in the country is not affecting any stakeholders involved in coal mining.
The government’s renewable energy targets are underway in the country. The coal consumption in the power sector will reach a peak level by 2030 and significantly decline over the next two decades. According to data, India’s electricity sector can be coal-free by 2050.
He said that most of the coal mines in the country are loss-making and on the verge of closing. These loss-making mines are especially in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal.
Overall, 75% of Coal India Limited’s (CIL) production and profits come from just 35 large mines, while the remaining mines are low-producing and largely unprofitable. These loss-making mines produce less than 10% coal, employ 40-45% of people, and incurred an aggregated loss of Rs 16,000 crores in 2018-19.
CIL plans to touch 1 billion tonnes of coal production, especially from 50-odd high-yielding mining projects and close unprofitable mines. It will result in shutting down 300-odd mines. But all these mines should be closed with proper closure and socio-economic transition plans.
The coal reserves are also getting exhausted in big coal-producing districts. About 95% of coal in Korba comes from only three large open cast mines, which will exhaust by 2040-45. In the next two decades, Korba, which is entirely dependent on coal for jobs and growth and has to look for alternatives.
According to Joshi, there is no contradiction between increasing coal consumption till 2030 and implementing a transition plan in the coal districts and states.
He added that the state should start planning and implementing a just transition in many Ruhrs in India and not wait for coal consumption to exhaust. Early planning will enable states to invest in infrastructure and attract businesses, create alternative employment opportunities, prepare the future workforce, and substitute and diversify the source of revenue.
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