Home / Politics / Policy /  Environment ministry seeks report on coal mines

New Delhi:The environment ministry has asked the coal ministry to provide efficiency details of coal mines across the country in the wake of the government facing criticism for diverting forest land for mining and underutilization of existing mines.

The move comes after the forest panel of the environment ministry pulled up Coal India Ltd (CIL) last month over the issue of reclamation of mines. Not convinced by the CIL’s afforestation claims, the forest panel asked it to furnish “complete" information about the forest reclamation status in each of its 429 mines within a month.

“We had sought details from the coal ministry about the efficiency of coal mines. We were being given general data. But we have demanded a mine-wise data to ascertain the real picture," said a senior environment ministry official, who did not wish to be identified.

The issue regarding optimum use of coal mines was also discussed during a meeting of environment minister Prakash Javadekar and coal minster Piyush Goyal on 10 July.

This is not the first time that the issue has been raised. Similar demands from the green ministry were made a few years ago during the second term of the UPA government. “We did not get satisfactory information then," the official said.

The coal ministry, however, has a different take on the matter. “Every coal mine takes time to reach its peak rate. It isn’t that a coal mine will reach its optimum or peak capacity within months. Sometimes, it takes 6-7 years. Sometimes, our estimates about the amount of coal at a particular location changes once we start the (mining) process. Many a time, the assessment comes out to be much less than the actual amount of coal," said a coal ministry official who did not want to be identified.

A study in 2011 by the Centre for Science and Environment, an NGO, had highlighted the problem of under-utilization of coal mines in India. It had said that the estimated coal reserves with the CIL are 64 billion tonnes but they produce only 500 million tonnes per annum.

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