The coal ministry is in discussions with the World Bank for collaboration on the mine closure framework, a government official said on Wednesday. Coal Additional Secretary M Nagaraju said the government is committed to ensuring that mines are properly and scientifically closed for the benefit of the society.
"We are now actually collaborating with the World Bank to develop a coal mine closure framework," Nagaraju said during a webinar. Vast experience of the World Bank in handling mine closure cases in different countries will be highly beneficial and facilitate the adoption of the best practices and standards in handling mine closure cases. The additional secretary also said both renewable energy (RE) and coal will go hand in hand complementing each other for some more time and then RE will take over the energy security of the country.
The ministry had earlier said it is in the process of finalising a robust mine closure framework on three major aspects - institutional governance; people and communities; and environmental reclamation and land re-purposing on the principles of just transition. The ministry had earlier said that as of now, the Indian coal sector is doing its best to fulfill the country's energy demand by augmenting coal production. At the same time, it is also taking various initiatives towards adopting the path of sustainable development with an emphasis on care for the environment and the host community. However, the Indian coal sector, the ministry had said, is relatively new to the concept of systematic mine closure.
Mine closure guidelines were first introduced in 2009, re-issued in 2013 and are still evolving. "As coal mining in India had started long ago, our coalfields are replete with several legacy mines remaining unused for long. In addition, mines are closing and will close in future also due to reasons such as exhaustion of reserves, adverse geo-mining conditions, safety issues, etc," the ministry had said. These mine sites should not only be made safe and environmentally stable but the continuity of livelihood should also be ensured for those who were directly or indirectly dependent on the mines, it had said.
Reclaimed lands will also be repurposed for economic use of the community and state, including tourism, sports, forestry, agriculture, horticulture and townships. The coal ministry has, therefore, envisaged building an all-inclusive comprehensive nationwide mine closure framework to cover legacy mines, recently closed mines and mine closures scheduled to happen in the short term, the statement had said.