New Delhi: The first phase of a project being implemented by the World Bank to help India plan its coal mine closures is already underway in Bokaro district of Jharkhand, said Minister for Coal Pralhad Joshi in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. In a written response to a qestion raised in the House during the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament, Joshi said that the Ministry of Coal has received proposals from the World Bank and GIZ (a German Development Agency) for assistance in development of India Specific Mine Closure Framework.
"Subsequent to approval of Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) for grant based technical assistance proposed in the World Bank's Preliminary Project Report (PPR), Phase – 1 of the World Bank Project has started with mapping of all closed and running mines, social survey, perception survey, stakeholder consultations etc. in Bokaro District, Jharkhand," Joshi told the House.
The minister said that the World Bank's framework for coal mine closure is based "on Just Transition Principles for closed and abandoned coal mines which also include the activity of re-purposing of such mines to make them environmentally stable and suitable for commercial purpose, and also addressing the need of re-skilling the local persons and finding alternate livelihoods."
India's power demand is expected to double in the next decade. In order to meet its ever-increasing power demand, India has mostly relied on coal because it continues to be more reliable in comparison to renewable energy sources. Also, since India has the world's third-largest coal reserves, it wants to exploit these reserves in the window available. Several reports have estimated that coal's share in India's total power generation is expected to remain well over 50 percent by 2030.
A report published by CEEW last year on the importance of coal in the Indian economy said, "Given the environmental and social impacts of coal use, a phase-out is inevitable. Still, the shift from coal to a cleaner energy basket should not exacerbate existing inequities or create new ones; it should address the future of communities that have depended on the coal economy for decades. This holistic approach to the phase-out is what we mean by a "just" transition."
"In India, such a transition will only unfold gradually. While a complete coal phase-out may take a few decades, we need to lay out a meticulous, long-term plan for coal-dependent regions right now. The phase-out's pace and intensity will largely depend on top-down governance. Government policy is currently geared towards ramping up coal production to meet growing domestic demand and substitute imports. CIL (Coal India Limited) is beholden to the government, so shutting down its coal operations will require a conscious shift in the coal policy agenda and deliberate planning and action," the report had said.
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