India has relaxed environmental regulations for coal mines seeking to increase production as power outages exacerbate the heat, the government said.
Rising temperatures have boosted energy demand in recent weeks and have left India facing a deficit of 25 million tonnes at a time when spot coal prices have soared sharply since the beginning of the year.
In a May 7 letter to AFP, the environment ministry said it had allowed the coal ministry to ease certain requirements, such as public consultation, so that mines could operate at increased capacity.
The easing came after it received a request from the Ministry of Coal, “which states that there is a huge pressure on domestic coal supplies in the country and every effort is being made to meet the demand for coal for all sectors.”
Coal mining projects that previously allowed work at 40 percent capacity can now increase capacity to 50 percent without new environmental impact studies, authorities said.
The letter coincided with the fact that the government last week launched a new scheme to lease abandoned state-owned coal mines to private mining companies, assuring them of a speedy resolution of the environment.
“The Ministry of Environment and Forests understands that they need to remove the red tape,” Coal Ministry official Anil Kumar Jain said at a launch event on Friday.
The government hopes to attract private mining giants such as Vedanta and Adani to revive more than 100 hopeless coal mines previously considered too expensive to operate using new technology and fresh capital.
Coal needs to be doubled
India needs a billion tons of coal annually to meet its current domestic demand.
Most of its needs are met by domestic producers, who produce a record 777 million tons fiscal year by the end of March.
Deficits are imported from countries such as Indonesia, Australia and South Africa.
The government says it plans to increase domestic coal production to 1.2 billion tons over the next two years to support economic recovery after the pandemic.
Despite a commitment to increase renewable energy capacity to 175 gigawatts by 2022 and 500 gigawatts by 2030, Coal and Mines Minister Pralhad Joshi said on Friday that India’s coal needs should double by 2040.
Restored emphasis on acceleration coal production risks India to miss Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s COP26 commitment to meet 50 per cent energy needs through renewable energy sources by 2030, according to experts.
According to UN estimates, the world’s third-largest carbon emitter, which already has a population of 1.4 billion, will become the most populous country on the planet by the middle of the decade.
© 2022 AFP
Citation: India softens environmental regulations for coal mines, citing heat (2022, May 11), obtained May 11, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-05-india-environment-coal- citing-heatwave.html
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