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With India facing coal shortages, the Centre on Wednesday eased the environment approvals for coal mine expansions to boost output. According to a government note, “some existing sites will be able to raise production by a further 10% without requiring new impact assessments, and rules on consulting local residents have been loosened".

This means, the exemption is valid for mines that have already won approvals to expand output by 40% and will allow them to produce as much as 50% more than the original planned capacity without seeking feedback from locals.

The changes come after the coal ministry flagged “huge pressure on domestic coal supply," the message said.

Coal accounts for more than 70% of India's electricity generation.

Coal power plants are shrinking due to huge demand for electricity amid heatwave, with several facilities operating with critical reserves of the fuel, power ministry data show. Blackouts and curbs on supply to some industries have prompted street protests. A lack of railway carriages to transport the fuel from mines to power plants has exacerbated the shortages.

The union government is planning to reopen more than 100 coal mines previously considered financially unsustainable, as the worst power crisis in over six years driven by scorching heatwave forces the world's third-biggest greenhouse gas emitter to double down on the fuel after months of low consumption.

India, the world's second-largest producer, importer, and consumer of coal behind China, addresses nearly 75% of its electricity requirement using coal.

 

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